How To Pick Up Girls- A Play by Tim Briffa (2006)

 

(WARNING: CONTAINS LANGUAGE OF A SEXIST NATURE THAT SOME VIEWERS AY FIND OFFENSIVE)

CHARACTERS:

VINCE: 28, Singer/songwriter. Typical rock musician style (tall, skinny, black hair.)

ADAM: 27, Actor. Dresses a little smarter and with less of a musician-type look than Vince, handsome, ex-public school.

NICK: 24, Science/biology student, also plays drums. He is stockier and generally scruffier than the others.

HOLLY: Music journalist, mid 20’s, brunette, intelligent, pretty.

Plus:

BORING GIRL, (SELINA),

SIXTIES GIRL,

INDIE KID

SOUND/MUSIC:

Music should play at the beginning and end of the club scenes using current indie-ish hits of the day alongside a number of older tracks from the 60s/70s. Tracks should be chosen according to how late in the evening it is, with slower/instrumental tracks generally being played earlier. All in all it should come across like a typical/slightly better than average DJ set. In order to achieve the impression of the music coming from another room it may be helpful to take most of the treble off or use a low-pass filter. A low level of background conversation could also be mixed in throughout.

 

HOW TO PICK UP GIRLS – A PLAY by Tim Briffa

ACT 1.

SCENE 1:

It is early evening in the lounge bar/”chill-out” room of a Camden nightclub. The stage area (occupying around 2/3 of stage left) is decorated in a typical indie/retro-ish club style (coloured lights, wall projections, possibly an oil wheel.) There are two or three tables, plus half-empty drinks, ashtrays etc. Around one table sit Nick and Vince. “Nightclub Jitters” by the Replacements is coming out from the wings, (stage left,) representing the main room/dance floor that also contains the bar. Although the actors can see into this area and occasionally enter it in order to buy drinks or look for girls, it is hidden from the audience’s view.

VINCE: …all right Britney or Christina Aguilera?

NICK: Christina, definitely, total filth that one.

VINCE: Yeah I agree, it’s such a shame about her music. Okay Ally McBeal or Posh Spice?

NICK: Ooh, battle of the anorexics, hmm, I’d say Ally, yeah Ally, two-cock gob.

VINCE: Really? I think I’d go for Posh, there is such a thing as too thin.

NICK: Maybe.

VINCE: Okay, how about Barbara Windsor or …Diana Dors?

NICK: We’re talking in their heyday I take it?

VINCE: Of course, not now.

NICK: Babs, I think…yeah Babs.

VINCE: It has to be really, doesn’t it?

NICK: Okay Carol Smillie or Carol Vorderman?

VINCE: Hmm, tricky one. (Considers) probably Carol Vorderman, I could imagine her being a bit of a dirtball on the sly.

NICK: Do you reckon? I think she’d be really uptight, (In prudish voice) “ooh no we can’t have sex, I’m doing Countdown later, you’ll mess up my hair.”

VINCE: Hmm maybe.

NICK: All right…Barbara Windsor now…. or Wendy Richards now?

VINCE: Pauline Fowler? That’s horrible. It’d be like having sex with my Nan!

NICK: Come on you have to choose.

VINCE: Urgh, all right Babs again, I suppose. Urgh! That’s so disgusting.

NICK: Okay, Bonnie Langford or Lena Zavar…

(They are suddenly interrupted by a good-looking guy in his mid to late twenties.)

ADAM: All right fellas.

VINCE: All right there.

NICK: All right, Adam.

VINCE: Haven’t seen you since the Arts Club.

NICK: Yeah, when you spent the whole night trying to cop off with that Swedish bird.

ADAM: What Swedish…oh you mean Nina, actually she’s from Norway, in fact she’s going back there in a few days.

NICK: Oh so you’ve seen her since, so come on then, what happened, did you do the business? Did she give you Norwegian wood?

ADAM: For God’s sake, I’ve barely sat down. (He takes a sip of his drink.) Yes, if you really want to know we did “do the business,” in fact I just got a text from her thanking me for a “really nice night.”

NICK: Oh dear she’s thanking you for having sex, that’s a bad sign.

ADAM: Give it a rest, she’s a very sweet girl.

NICK: Who wants “sweet?” What you want is some dirty little filthbucket.

ADAM: Speak for yourself Nick! Some of us are capable of feelings you know.

NICK: (Mock offended.) Now that hurts! Anyway, Scandinavian girls are so over-rated, it’s always, (imitates) “Yah my country is very beautiful, but it’s also quite boring and the beer is very expensive.” Plus they all have this weird attitude to sex, like it’s perfectly natural and nothing to be ashamed of. Instead of dark and depraved and shrouded in guilt, like it’s meant to be. It takes all the fun out of it.

ADAM: Hmm.

VINCE: So what else have you been up to? Are you still seeing that Spanish one, what’s her name, Katrina?

ADAM: Katalina. (Unenthusiastically) Yeah, I guess.

NICK: You sound like you’re walking on air.

ADAM: Well I wouldn’t mind if we just saw each other once or twice a week, but she won’t stop ringing, “what are you doing tonight?” “What are you doing tomorrow?” She texted me three times today.

VINCE: I thought you only met her a month or two ago.

ADAM: Exactly, plus she’s got this really irritating habit of stroking my neck after sex, like for ages, I can’t seem to get her to stop, it’s so annoying. Why are women always trying to give you neck massages?

VINCE: I don’t know. Anyway, if she’s bothering you so much, why don’t you just dump her?

ADAM: Actually, I was thinking about it, but then a few nights ago we were having sex, and right in the middle, she suddenly starts talking dirty, like really full-on, and then the next day she asked me if I’d ever fantasized about tying someone up!

VINCE: Sounds like she’s starting to get in touch with her inner filthbucket.

NICK: Or else she’s planning a kidnap.

ADAM: She’s definitely getting more into the whole sex thing and she was so prim at the start, too. She’d barely get undressed unless the lights were off. I always get this, they start off really prudish and then they turn into right dirtballs.

VINCE: Maybe she was a dirtball all along and she was just acting prim at the beginning, so you didn’t get the “wrong idea” about her.

NICK: Nah, I reckon it’s all just a ploy. She’s trying to keep you interested with the promise of extra filth, in exchange for romantic dinners and longer neck stroking sessions.

ADAM: Urgghh!

VINCE: Anyway, at least you’re free tonight.

ADAM: To be honest, I was thinking of making it an early one, I’ve got a date with some girl from the agency tomorrow.

NICK: My God, Shaft!

VINCE: You’re on a real filth roll at the moment, aren’t you?

ADAM: The thing is it’s almost too much, do you ever get that? When you just feel bored of sex?

VINCE: Not really, and definitely not lately. I haven’t had any fresh filth in ages, I don’t know what’s happening to me, I think I’ve got lover’s block. Anyway, you can’t leave early! Electric Eel’s only once a month.

ADAM: But I told you, I’m bored of sex.

VINCE: But that’s exactly the time you should be out on the pull. Women are always more interested in you when you’re not out looking for it.

NICK: That’s true and they never come near you when you’re desperate. It’s one of God’s cruellest laws.

ADAM: But why would I want them coming after me, if I’m not looking for sex?

VINCE: No one said you actually had to have sex with them, you just get their phone numbers, then save them up for the lean times, for when your filth roll ends. It’s like a squirrel burying nuts so they’ve got food for the winter.

NICK: Except in this case, the “burying your nuts” bit comes later. (Vince and Adam laugh.)

ADAM: Yeah well I suppose I could keep you two company.

NICK: Actually, I was going to make a move myself.

VINCE: What?

ADAM: If I’m staying you have to!

NICK: But I never asked you to stay.

VINCE: Come on.

NICK: I was planning on a nice quiet wank tonight, the new Men Only’s out. Anyway I’ve got to start my thesis tomorrow. I don’t want to end up an unemployed bum like you two.

ADAM: Rock ‘n’ roll!

NICK: I can be rock ‘n’ roll when I’m qualified.

VINCE: What as a biologist?

NICK: I never said I was definitely going into that. Did I tell you about the Led Zep tribute band I saw with the crap John Bonham?

ADAM: You want to spend the rest of your life playing drums for a Led Zeppelin tribute band? It’s not even a real band, it’s just covers for God’s sake.

NICK: They’re a lot more real than most bands out there, at least they know they’re posing. Anyway I might not have any choice if I don’t get down to a bit of work.

VINCE: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

NICK: That’s a stupid phrase, it doesn’t even rhyme properly.

VINCE: Don’t be a wuss.

NICK: Oh all right, but if I fail my degree, you’re going to have to support me in the manner to which I am accustomed.

ADAM: You mean squallor? No problem!

VINCE: All right, it’s my round. (He gets up to go the bar.)

NICK: How are things with you anyway, how’s the acting? Any more ads?

ADAM: Just a small part in Casualty.

NICK: I thought you died in that already.

ADAM: Yeah, but they never care.

NICK: It’s amazing what modern medicine can do.

ADAM: Hmm. (They sit silently for a little, looking around. Vince is now talking to a pretty girl with light brown hair.) Who’s that Vince is talking to?

NICK: I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve seen her before.

(Vince returns with the drinks.)

ADAM: Who was that? She looked quite cute.

NICK: I thought you said you were bored of women.

VINCE: You’d be bored of her pretty quick I can tell you.

NICK: What, have you? (Makes nudge, nudge gesture.)

VINCE: Mm, a couple of months ago, I nearly fell asleep before we made it home though, just listening to her, honestly she is so boring. You know what she said to me? “Did you know Eskimos have 62 words for snow?” Like (sarcastically) “no, I never heard that before. Ever.”

NICK: I heard it was 43.

ADAM: I heard it was 100.

NICK: Come on you idiot, it’s not going to be exactly 100, is it? That’s just a round figure. It’s probably just an urban myth anyway, they probably only have one word for snow, (in odd accent) “schnoah.” (Adam and Vince look at each other.) Besides, who cares if she’s boring? So long as she’s fit.

ADAM: I don’t agree with that!

NICK: Yeah right!

VINCE: It’s true, you need to at least get on a bit, I mean what are you supposed to do once you’ve had the sex, just sit around admiring their beauty for the next 15 hours of the day?

NICK: You could always just kick them out after.

ADAM: Unfortunately it doesn’t normally work like that. At least not more than the once.

NICK: You see this is why porn is so much better than the real thing. No stupid neck-massages, or “how was that for you” conversations to put up with. You just shoot your wad and close the magazine. Clean and simple.

ADAM: I don’t know why you still buy those magazines, there’s so much free stuff on the net, why pay for it when you can just download it for nothing?

NICK: Because in a few years, porn mags might not even exist, I’ve got to enjoy them while I can.

ADAM: Don’t be stupid, porn mags will always exist.

NICK: Not necessarily, it’s like when videos came along and killed off Triple X cinemas. There’s just not enough of us truly committed fans out there. Plus I like that little adrenalin rush you get when you buy them, especially when there’s a woman behind the counter and they look at you all serious and go “would you like a bag for that?” and then I can go “no thank you, I carry it proud.”

ADAM: If you really want to keep offending people you could always just go into an Internet cafe and jerk off in there.

NICK: As a matter of fact I found a good site the other day, mammarylane.com.

ADAM: Oh yeah?

NICK: Yeah, it’s just topless shots going back through the years, starting with old Parisian and Victorian stuff. It’s weird though, because it’s as if tits have changed shape over the years. You used to get these kind of puffy ones that pointed downwards, but you don’t seem to see them anymore.

VINCE: Maybe it’s some kind of Darwinian natural selection thing. No one wanted to reproduce with the puffy-titted ones and so they became extinct.

NICK: But they can’t have all suddenly died out in the last hundred years. Unless Lamarck was right all along.

VINCE: Who’s Lamarck?

NICK: He was the main guy before Darwin, he had this theory that different characteristics in animals came about because they sort of willed them into existence or something. Like the reason wading birds have got long legs is because they got fed up with their feathers getting wet the whole time, so their legs started growing longer.

VINCE: Okay.

NICK: So, then Darwin came along and said it all happened through lots of tiny, little improvements over hundreds of thousands of years. And then everyone turned around and said “yup, we agree with you now, Lamarck was talking shit” and he ended up dying in poverty with his reputation in tatters.

ADAM: Maybe you could make that your thesis, “Why puffy-shaped tits challenge Evolutionary Theory.” I’m sure you’d pass with honours.

(Suddenly a quite cute “sixties-looking” girl comes up to Vince with her friend standing nearby/offstage.)

SIXTIES CHICK: Excuse me, have you got a light, please?

VINCE: Er hang on, I’ll have a look. (Vince frisks his pockets.)

NICK: Why are you asking him for a light, your friend’s got a lighter in her pocket. She’s even got a lit cigarette.

SIXTIES CHICK: Oh I didn’t realize, Laura, can I borrow a light? (She looks embarrassed before walking off awkwardly.)

VINCE: What the hell did you do that for?

NICK: What? I just pointed out that she already had a light. It’s not my fault if she’s an idiot. Plus you don’t smoke.

VINCE: Come on, she obviously wanted to talk to me. That could have been the love of my life.

NICK: Well that doesn’t strike me as a very good foundation on which to begin a relationship, her pretending she doesn’t have a light and you pretending you do, it’s all lies. Anyway you can do much better than that, you don’t need someone who looks like she just stepped out of the Cilla Black Show, you should be looking for someone special, like Brigitte Bardot or Raquel Welsh, someone more in your league.

VINCE: What, now or in their heyday?

NICK: Oh heyday. Definitely.

VINCE: (Trying not to smile.) You can be such a prick sometimes. Actually that reminds me, I thought of another one when I was at the bar, Joni Mitchell in her heyday or Alanis Morrissette now?

NICK: Horse-faced singer songwriters, interesting. I think it would have to be Joni, Alanis is better looking, but she’d probably start wittering on about the rain forests or something.

ADAM: You see, some things are more important to you than just looks.

VINCE: Have you noticed how female singer songwriters always seem to have elongated faces? Either that or they’re lesbians.

ADAM: You what?

VINCE: It’s true, think about it, Joan Baez, Carol King, Carly Simon…

NICK: Sheryl Crow, face like a horse (considering)… Karen Carpenter.

VINCE: Good one. Patti Smith.

ADAM: Okay what about… Aretha Franklin?

VINCE: She didn’t write her own songs.

ADAM: All right Tracey Chapman.

VINCE: Rug muncher. Like I said they either have a face like a horse or they bat for the other side.

NICK: Emmylou Harris, face like a horse. Sinead O Connor.

VINCE: Rug muncher.

ADAM: Nina Simone?

VINCE: Face like a horse and a rug muncher.

NICK: That’s why she was so good.

ADAM: (Sarcastically.) Maybe there’s some sort of Darwinian explanation for that and all.

NICK: Funnily enough he talked quite a lot about the evolution of the horse. I don’t recall any mention of singer/songwriters though.

VINCE: Michelle Shocked, rug muncher, kd Laing, rug muncher and slightly horsey…

ADAM: Okay Dolly Parton, don’t tell me she’s a dyke, anyway I’ve had enough of this, come on let’s check out the main room, blart awaits.

NICK: Yeah all right. Are you coming Vince?

VINCE: No, I’m going to hang here for a bit, I want to keep an eye on the one by the bar, I might make a move in a minute so long as this guy here isn’t about to…oh fuck, he is, too. Oh come on, mate, for God’s sake, you haven’t got a chance, she’s well out of your league. What an idiot, I give him 30 seconds.

NICK: All right we’ll leave you to it.

(Vince is left sitting at the table alone. He checks his watch and then looks towards the guy trying to chat up the girl he likes. Vince’s expression gradually changes from one of smug self-satisfaction, to bemusement, to undisguised irritation, as it becomes apparent the guy is not being given the brush-off after all. Suddenly Adam sits down next to him.)

ADAM: Shit, man, guess who’s fucking showed up?

VINCE: I don’t know. Not the Spaniard? Katrina?

ADAM: (Nods mournfully.) Katalina.

VINCE: Shit? Where is she?

ADAM: Near the corner, I don’t think she saw me though. My God, why won’t she leave me alone? You’re going to have to shield me.

VINCE: Long black hair? (Adam nods.) Yeah, she looks like she could be a bit of a stalker. Then again, she could just be here by coincidence.

NICK: (Joining them.) According to the Celestine Prophesy there’s no such thing as coincidence.

ADAM: Yeah, and I told her I was coming here.

NICK: You what? You told her you were coming here? (He does a brief imitation of a mentally retarded person.) What the hell did you do that for?

ADAM: I thought the fact that I didn’t ask her to come with me might have been a hint. Anyway we only saw each other two nights ago. Shit, and there’s this really fit Aussie girl here from last month, damn it, I’m sure she would have been up for it, she recognized me from the ad.

NICK: (Suspiciously) What, she came up to you and said, “are you the guy from the chewing gum ad?”

ADAM: Well not exactly, she said I looked familiar.

NICK: So, then you said, “yeah I was in a chewing gum ad.”?

ADAM: Well.

NICK: I like the way you’re always saying you’d hate to think someone was sleeping with you just because you’ve been on a TV ad, and yet just about every girl you go for you make sure they know all about it. You should try being more forthright with women instead of presenting them with a false image you have no possible chance of ever living up to.

ADAM: Cheers Nick, but the day I turn to you for advice on my love life, is the day I am truly screwed.

NICK: What are you saying?

ADAM: Well maybe if you’d actually had a relationship that lasted for more than a fortnight.

NICK: Hey, I went out with that Lucy woman for over a month.

ADAM: What was that wonderful piece of wisdom you told Vince?

VINCE: “Always tell them they’re the fattest girl you’ve ever been out with, it keeps them on their toes.”

NICK: It’s sound advice. Anyway, I have relationships with my porn collection, they can be very meaningful. (Vince laughs.) It’s true, you can learn a lot from porn. Like I’ve got some magazines that I just look at once or twice and that’s it, never open them again. They’re like my casual affairs and then there’s the ones that really mean something to me, like Men Only Vol 7/12 or the Hustler Twins Issue, which I’m always going back to. I never lend them out either, so I know about monogamy.

ADAM: And there was I thinking you weren’t sensitive.

VINCE: I don’t really get off on that glossy stuff, I much prefer amateur pics at least they look like real women.

NICK: Nah, give me silicone and Photoshop any day.

ADAM: False tits, porn, tribute bands, it’s odd how you always seem to prefer the fakes to the real thing, a shrink might make something of that.

NICK: (Completely ignores him.) So what about you Vince, did you manage to make a move on your bird?

VINCE: (Miserably.) I haven’t had a chance, she’s still talking to that geek. (Looks over in open disgust.) Oh my God, now they’re snogging, that is so wrong.

NICK: Come on, time to cut your losses, face it, the night’s a write-off.

ADAM: Yeah, I suppose you’re right and I should probably try and get away before Katalina sees me, I don’t think I can handle her tonight. Are you coming Vince?

VINCE: No I think I’m going to stick around, there’s still some blart I want to check out.

ADAM: All right, give us a call us tomorrow.

VINCE: All right, see ya.

(THE LIGHTS DIM)

ACT 1.

SCENE 2:

Vince’s room, the following morning. Occupying around 1/3 of the stage, (stage right,) it is a typical musician’s bedroom, with little furniture apart from a chair, a bedside table and a stereo system. An acoustic guitar hangs on the wall, alongside classic rock and film posters- Bob Dylan, Monterey Pop, Blow-up, etc.

Vince awakes looking extremely hungover. As his eyes start to focus he notices a neat pile of clothing close to where his own are strewn. It is obvious he has little memory of the previous night or who he came home with. He seems to be in the act of trying to remember, when the door opens and the “Boring Girl” he was chatting to the night before walks in, carrying a tray full of food. It is not clear which he finds more disturbing, the thought of breakfast or conversation with the Boring Girl.

BORING GIRL: Wakey wakey, rise and shine! And how is my Vincent this morning? Not too hung over I hope.

VINCE: Oh hi there, erm, yeah, maybe a little.

BORING GIRL: It’s probably because of all that alcohol you drank. I bet you don’t even remember my name do you?

VINCE: Umm…

BORING GIRL: It’s Selina.

VINCE: Selina, yeah, sorry it was…on the tip of my tongue.

SELINA: Isn’t that your lips?

VINCE: What?

SELINA: Your lips are on the tip of your tongue, ha ha. That’s quite funny isn’t it, I just thought of it. Actually I’m not surprised you’ve forgotten my name, you were sooo drunk last night, you should have seen yourself, you were stumbling all over the place. Anyway, I made you some breakfast, that should cheer you up. There wasn’t much food in your cupboard, though, all I could find was some eggs and cereal and some bread. There was some dried pasta as well, but I didn’t think you’d want that for breakfast, so I made you some poached eggs instead, plus the cereal, just in case you didn’t want the eggs. Or I thought you could have them both if you wanted, it’s up to you. It’s your food after all. (Laughs in annoying manner.) There wasn’t any juice, so I just brought water. I nearly brought you some milk to drink, but then I thought you’ve already got milk with your cereal, so you probably wouldn’t want to drink any more. Although maybe I should have brought you some anyway, in case you only wanted your eggs and not your cereal.

VINCE: (Pauses, as he tried to take all of this in.) Right, thanks, that’s very…thoughtful. (He rubs his head.) I might have some later.

SELINA: That’s okay. (Pause.) You know why it’s called breakfast don’t you?

VINCE: Erm, something to do with breaking a fast?

SELINA: Because when you’re asleep it’s like you’re on a fast, because you’re not eating, so you break the fast with break-fast, although you don’t say break-fast, you say breakfast, to save time, not that it saves that much time. (Laughs.) Interesting though, isn’t it?

VINCE: Mmm.

SELINA: (She pulls back the curtains, dazzling sunlight lands on Vince’s face.) Oh my God, it’s such a nice day, what have you got to do today, Vince? Come on, it’s so beautiful we can’t just waste a day like this, let’s go to the park or something, come on it’s Sunday, Vince? Are you all right Vince, you don’t look very well.

(Vince looks heavenward with a “how the hell am I going to get out of this?” look.)

(THE LIGHTS DIM.)

ACT 2.

SCENE 1:

Inside club, one month later.

ADAM: All right Vince, been here long?

VINCE: Half an hour or so.

ADAM: How’s the blart? Looked a bit dry when I came through.

VINCE: It’s terrible, I’ve checked everywhere, just B-side material.

ADAM: Shit…where’s Nick?

VINCE: Having a slash. How have you been anyway? How’s work?

ADAM: Ah, you know.

NICK: (Returning) All right Adam.

ADAM: All right Nick.

NICK: (To Vince) Hey, I thought of another one. Pauline Quirk or Rose West?

ADAM: That is so out of order.

NICK: You’re right, Rose West would be outraged. (Adam shakes head.) So how are you anyway?

ADAM: Actually I was hoping for a bit of fun tonight, but Vince says it’s all B-sides.

NICK: I’d say closer to the bonus track on a CD single…by Tin Machine.

ADAM: Nasty.

NICK: Ah, this club’s always rubbish.

VINCE: It’s not always bad, anyway it pisses on most clubs.

NICK: Only because they’re really shit, we’re living through a shit decade.

ADAM: What are you talking about, it’s a great decade. Just because you’re a miserable sod.

NICK: I accept it, I’m just not prepared to delude myself. The fact is we’re the first generation in history whose parents were cooler than us.

VINCE: You can’t say that! Even if it is true.

ADAM: Fuck it, I’m getting a drink, the usual everyone?

VINCE: Cheers. (Adam goes to the bar.) Hey you know who I quite fancy?

NICK: Who’s that?

VINCE: The one on the door.

NICK: Her? But she’s a right cow. She’s always giving everybody shit.

VINCE: You see, I don’t mind that, I like a girl with balls.

NICK: You should check out Thailand then.

VINCE: Hah.

NICK: Actually I’ve always had a bit of a thing for trannies.

VINCE: Are you serious?

NICK: Yeah why not? I mean they’re going to know what a guy likes aren’t they?

VINCE: I suppose. Do you think you could actually go one though? I mean for real?

NICK: Who can say, especially if you were shit-faced in some bar somewhere no one knew you. Anyway holiday flings, don’t really count. (Adam returns with drinks.) She’d have to be top notch though, not some kind of Tootsie look-alike.

ADAM: How come Dustin Hoffman is always running in his films? (They look at him blankly.) Usually in a tracksuit top, with a hood at the back. (They continue staring at him blankly.) Check it out. Kramer Versus Kramer, when he’s jogging in Central Park, and he jogs there in Tootsie. Marathon Man, obviously, The Graduate when his car breaks down and he’s trying to stop Elaine from getting married. Straw Dogs when he’s running to save Susan George from getting banged by the locals…Do you think he has it in his contract, “must include scene where Mr Hoffman runs?”

NICK: What about Midnight Cowboy? He was a cripple in that.

ADAM: The fantasy scene on the beach, in Florida.

NICK: Oh yeah! Dunno, never thought about it.

ADAM: So what about you Vince, how’ve things been with you lately?

VINCE: You don’t want to know.

NICK: Really you don’t.

ADAM: You’re not still going through your mid-life crisis are you?

NICK: About two decades ahead of schedule.

VINCE: 28 is mid-life for a musician and I haven’t even got a deal yet.

ADAM: Come on.

VINCE: It’s true, Bob Dylan was 22 when he wrote Blowin’ In The Wind, George Harrison was my age when the Beatles split up for God’s sake.

NICK: But they were both a lot more talented than you.

VINCE: Thanks.

ADAM: Come on, age is just a number, your problem is you worry too much about what other people think.

VINCE: It’s not what other people think, it’s what I think. I don’t want to make it when I’m bald and fat and look like Phil Collins. Rock ‘n’ roll’s meant to be made by young people who look cool, not people who look like your bank manager.

ADAM: Anyway what about Leonard Cohen, he was in his 30’s when he made it. And Iggy Pop.

VINCE: Yeah okay, but they were the exceptions.

NICK: And what about all that French rubbish you’re always playing at me, Serge Gainsbourg, and all that, you said he was 40 when he had his first No 1, or that other guy, you said was having hits in his 70s, Charles Hasnovoice.

VINCE: Aznovaur. Anyway the French are different, they stay cool forever.

ADAM: So unless you’re French or Iggy Pop or someone else who broke the rules, it can’t be done? That’s such crap, I tell you it’s all about attitude, attitude over-rides everything. Anyway, you’ll do it, you’re fucking great, you just need to believe in yourself more.

VINCE: Yeah thanks and I do tell myself that, but then at the same time I think, maybe I’m just kidding myself? I mean every musician thinks they’re good don’t they, but we can’t all be fantastic. How do I know I’m not just another one of those talentless no-hopers who goes round saying any day now they’re going to be massive?

ADAM: Sometimes having talent can be a disadvantage.

VINCE: Well yeah, I mean, look at Damien Rice, I mean how did that happen?

ADAM: You’re not going to start going on about Damien Rice are you? He’s really not that bad.

VINCE: Yes he is, he’s a third-rate…out of tune…pretentious…

ADAM: I just don’t see why you get so worked up about someone like Damien Rice and yet you never seem to care about all that Fame Academy, Pop Idol crap that’s out there, or any of those awful boy bands. I’d be so much more annoyed by them if I were in your shoes. At least Damien Rice has some talent.

NICK: The reason he hates Damien Rice so much, is because they’re both doing that “it’s-so-hard-being-sensitive-in-this-modern-world” singer-songwriter crap, so he sees him as competition, whereas he’s never going to be in a boy band is he? Let’s face it, it’s a bit late for that.

VINCE: You know you’re really good for my morale?

NICK: It’s like red and grey squirrels, the way they’re always fighting and trying to kill each other, I mean you’d think they’d get on, because they’re basically pretty similar …

ADAM: Why does everything keep coming back to squirrels?

NICK: … whereas minks don’t bother them at all, even though they’re actually nasty little vermin, who deserve everything they get, if you ask me, but because they don’t share the same habitat or food supply they leave each other alone. It’s just about competition. With squirrels it’s over food and a place to nest and with Vince and Damien Rice it’s over female adulation and record sales. Not that Damien Rice probably loses much sleep over it.

VINCE: Great.

NICK: Don’t get me wrong, Adam’s no better than you, I mean someone like Sylvester Stallone or Arnie can’t act their way out of a paper bag, but they don’t bother him at all, but then mention Ralph Fiennes or Hugh Grant and you’ll soon see through that affable facade.

ADAM: Hey don’t mention Hugh,G-g-g-g-ggrant, that fuckety-fucking arsehole.

NICK: See what I mean? Because Adam feels that he should really be playing all those dashing English gentleman roles he thinks Hugh Grant is hogging. It’s all about competition, which is why they’re natural enemies.

ADAM: Yeah and who’s your natural enemy, David fucking Bellamy?

NICK: He was a very gifted naturalist.

ADAM: (Sighing) God, where are all the women? (No one says anything.) Maybe I should call Katalina.

VINCE: The Spaniard? I didn’t know you were still seeing her, so how’s it going, any progress on the filth front?

ADAM: Yes and no, I suggested watching a porn film the other day, and you know what she said? “I don’t get porn, I just find it funny.”

NICK: Funny? Now that makes me so angry! When it comes to filth, women simply lack commitment.

ADAM: Yeah well. (There is an even longer silence.) I could almost go for one of the B-sides, but even they look like prudes.

NICK: Now that’s a bad combination.

VINCE: Actually there was one here earlier who was probably your type, but she left.

NICK: Anna? Yeah you’d probably have dug her.

ADAM: So how come neither of you went for her?

NICK: Actually I tried it on a couple of months ago.

VINCE: I didn’t know that, so what happened?

NICK: She blew me out. I’m sure she would have been up for it though. You know when they keep looking into your eyes and touching your arm the whole time?

VINCE: So what happened?

NICK: Well then she asked me what I liked most in a girl, so I said “to be honest I like big tits” and then she suddenly started getting all arsey with me, said I was just a typical bloke. (Vince and Adam look incredulous.) What? I was just being honest, I thought that was what women wanted. Anyway she’s got big tits herself, it was meant as a compliment.

ADAM: Well maybe she thought it showed all you were interested in was sex, rather than something a little more…meaningful.

NICK: What like a “relationship?” (He pronounces the word with undisguised contempt.) Why is it somehow seen as more worthy to want a relationship rather than straightforward casual sex? It’s just double standards. It’s like the way it’s perfectly respectable to read romantic fiction, but you have to keep your porn hidden under the mattress.

ADAM: You always leave yours lying around.

NICK: That’s just because I’m liberated. Anyway, if I read it on the tube I’d get bashed with umbrellas.

ADAM: Come on, even you have to admit it’s a lot more superficial to only care about a girl’s tits rather than her personality. Men are much more shallow when it comes to relationships.

NICK: Oh, so you’re telling me that all the girls out there looking to marry rich guys are doing it because they’re interested in their personalities? At least we usually only want to spend a night or two with someone with big tits, women will spend their entire lives with some horrible little slimeball, just because he’s got a nice car and a few grand in the bank.

VINCE: What I hate is when a girl has got a really great pair of tits, but no idea what to do with them, or whenever you touch them, she looks at you like you’re some kind of pervert or something, like they were only put there to feed babies. It’s such a waste. There’s so much a girl can do with a good pair of tits, if they’ve got a bit of imagination.

NICK: They should have them grafted onto some flat-chested filth-bucket who’d really know what to do with them. And then we’d all be happy.

ADAM: My God! (Smiles in semi-disbelief.)

VINCE: (Suddenly cheering up.) Hey, I almost forgot. I got those CD’s this morning.

ADAM: What the ones about pulling?

VINCE: Yeah, I put one on before I came out, I think they might be all right.

NICK: Do I know about this?

ADAM: It’s some CD course he sent off for.

VINCE: “How To Pick Up Girls.” It’s by this American guy, Ted Dellar.

ADAM: He claims to have slept with over 2000 women.

VINCE: 2,200.

NICK: And you believe him, do you?

VINCE: Seriously, it’s for real, there was this piece on him in the Observer, he’s really well-known in the States, he does these seminars over there. They had these interviews with some of the people who’d done the course, saying they’d gone out and slept with loads of women afterwards.

NICK: And so how much did these CDs set you back, exactly?

VINCE: About a hundred quid. Or so.

NICK: He saw you coming.

VINCE: I know it sounds like rubbish, but it really looks good. It’s full of all these techniques, plus it’s not just what the guy teaches, there’s these subliminal messages, that programme your subconscious while you’re listening. I just wish I’d found out about this guy five years ago.

NICK: Five years ago, he was probably selling junk bonds.

ADAM: I hate to say it, but I think I’m with Nick on this one.

VINCE: Well see if I care, just don’t come asking to borrow them off me when I’m beating them off with a shitty stick.

NICK: No, no, I’m keeping an open mind. So what advice does this guy give exactly?

VINCE: Well I’ve only listened to the introduction CD so far, but the first thing he says is that it doesn’t matter what you look like, it’s primarily about self-confidence, which is why you sometimes get ugly guys who pull the whole time.

ADAM: That’s like what I was saying before about attitude.

VINCE: But he says it has to be 100% confidence, 95% isn’t enough, which is where all the subliminal messages come in. Plus, like I said, there’s all these other tips and tricks and stuff. I tell you, it seems really good.

NICK: Well I’ll believe it when I see it. Anyway, you don’t need a course to get laid, three simple words: “I. Love. You.”

VINCE: And how many strings come with that?

ADAM: It wouldn’t work anyway.

VINCE: That’s true, women are much too wise to all of that these days.

ADAM: It’s not just that, not every woman just wants to settle down you know.

NICK: Instead they all just want to have casual sex?

ADAM: All right, not all, maybe, but some.

VINCE: Actually that’s one of the things the guy says, that about 1 in 10 women just want something casual, but most just want a relationship. So if you want something casual, you have to pretend what you’rer after is something serious and committed.

NICK: And then they’ll shag you.

VINCE: Well basically, yeah.

ADAM: But you’re operating under completely false pretences.

NICK: So? They’re forever operating under false pretences. How many times have you spent the night buying drinks for some bird, only to have her metamorphose into Julie Andrews the second the last orders bell goes? “I’m sorry I have to be up in the morning, why not call me in the week sometime?” Like “why didn’t you tell me that three hours ago, before I’d wasted all my money trying to get you pissed?”

ADAM: Yeah, but I bet they’d be a lot more up for it, if they didn’t get called slags every time they left with a guy.

NICK: Yeah, but usually by other girls. We all love women who sleep around. As long as they’ll do it with us.

VINCE: And as long as we don’t happen to be married to them at the time.

NICK: And they still won’t do it with us.

ADAM: Still, they don’t get admired or congratulated for it like we do, no one listens to their CD courses to find out what techniques they use.

NICK: Girls don’t need techniques. All they have to do if they want a shag is walk into the nearest bar and shout “anyone fancy a fuck?” Twenty hands will go in the air. Whereas for us there’s a bit of skill involved.

VINCE: Yeah, we’ve got them to contend with.

NICK: Anyway, women get congratulated when they get a ring on their finger. Then it’s all ‘oh my God, you’ve managed to transform this once-magnificent free-spirited creature into your own slave cum manservant, you a mere sales assistant from Hull, from now on we shall worship and follow you for you have shown us the way.’ Whereas for us it’s usually just “oh well, another one bites the dust.”

ADAM: So how come it’s men who do the proposing, if we all hate it so much.

NICK: Maybe they had some kind of voodoo hex put on them.

ADAM: (Smiles) yeah, right…

(A typical-looking ‘Indie Kid’ comes up, handing out flyers.)

INDIE KID: Want to come and see a band this Wednesday?

NICK: Honestly? No.

INDIE KID: You don’t know what you’re missing, a few months from now we’re going to be fucking huge.

NICK: Really, you too? My God, I’m surrounded by the stars of tomorrow. In years to come they’ll be talking about this moment.

VINCE: I fucking hate Camden.

NICK: Anyway, how much is it?

INDIE KID: It’s 6 quid or 5 with a flyer or student card.

NICK: What if you’re a student and you’ve got a flyer?

INDIE KID: It’s still five pounds.

NICK: Fucking rip-off.

ADAM: Come on leave the poor guy alone.

VINCE: I can’t deal with this.

ADAM: Yeah come on, let’s get out of here.

VINCE: Yeah fuck it, let’s go.

(LIGHTS DIM.)

ACT 2.

SCENE 2:

Vince’s flat, following morning. Vince wakes up and starts to get dressed. He looks at a pile of CDs, pulls one out and places it in the stereo then presses “play.” Some “new-agey” type music starts up, before a slightly hypnotic American voice takes over.

VOICE ON CD: Hi my name’s Ted Dellar and welcome to Part Two of “How To Pick Up Girls.”

In lesson one, we learned about the One in Ten rule. The One In Ten rule refers to the fact that while most women are indeed primarily on the look-out for a long-term commitment-based relationship, approximately one in ten women are looking for the same thing as most men, namely commitment-free, no-strings-attached sex. Once you have learned how to recognize these delightful, forward-thinking ladies you will find they will provide you with the main source of your sexual fulfillment.

But the really important thing about the One in Ten rule, which if understood correctly will completely transform your love life, is that it doesn’t just mean that one in ten women are looking for the same thing as you, but that the remaining nine out of ten women are also looking for the same thing as you, but for one tenth of the time.

Which in simple terms means, that any woman given the right circumstances, and approached in a skillful enough manner, can be turned into a willing sexual conquest.

(CD fades.)

(THE LIGHTS DIM.)

ACT 3.

SCENE 2:

Inside club, one month later.

ADAM: All right lads.

NICK: Adonis.

ADAM: So how’s it going?

VINCE: Pretty fucking good, man, I was having a blart attack earlier, this place is full of honeys.

ADAM: It’s so strange how that happens, this month loads, last month nothing.

NICK: There was probably some Friends omnibus on and they were all sitting at home going “how come we never meet any guys?”

VINCE: So how have you been doing? You look a bit stressed. Katrina? (Adam nods resignedly.)

NICK: Rag week? Bird ‘flu?

VINCE: Yeah you look like you’ve got a bit of the old passive PMT.

ADAM: It’s not that, I just spent the whole afternoon shoe-shopping, half the day wandering round fucking Oxford St.

VINCE: Why did you do that?

ADAM: Well I didn’t want to, obviously, I got hoodwinked into it.

NICK: I told you all that promise of filth was a trap.

ADAM: What is it with women and shoes? They’re obsessed.

NICK: Ah the age-old mystery! I think it’s the onlyn thing they’ve found that serves no evolutionary purpose whatsover.

ADAM: Exactly, I mean no guy ever cares what a girl’s got on her feet, it’s the last thing we look at. (They both give “search me” looks.) I tell you, it was terrible, she must have looked at about forty pairs, and then each time she tried some on, she’d turn to me and go “so what do you think?” So I’d usually just pick the cheapest or say, “which ever you like” and then she’d just go into one of her huffs. It was such a waste of time, it always is. Everywhere I went, all could see were these poor guys with the same hang-dog expressions on their face, every one of them looking like they’re thinking exactly the same thing, “what the fuck am I doing here?” The worst part is, I don’t think the women want us there either, not really, they never really care what we think. I just don’t get it, they must know we hate it, surely?

NICK: But it’s precisely because we hate it so much that they want to take us the whole time. There’s only one reason they want us to come out shopping with them, and that’s so come Monday morning, when they go into work, and everyone’s asking each other what they did on the weekend, she can go “shoe-shopping,” point to her feet and say “Miss Selfridge, 150 quid.” And then when they’ve all finished cooing about the stitching or whatever it is they find so exciting, one of them will go “So Miss Selfridge, eh? So did Darren take you?” And then, all matter of factly, she can go “yup, and we checked out all of Covent Garden first,” and then they can all go “Oh My God, he took you all over the West End, and on a Saturday afternoon too! You’ve obviously got him exactly where you want him!” That’s what it’s all about, really, getting brownie points off their friends, you shouldn’t fall for it.

ADAM: It’s unbelievable.

NICK: It’s the same reason women like getting flowers so much. It’s not because they actually like flowers, I mean you don’t see them reading books on flowers or going on field trips to look at some rare hibiscus. The reason they like getting flowers so much is because men feel like such idiots walking around carrying them, because it makes them look like a wuss. And so when you give them flowers women get all chuffed because it’s a sign that you’ve gone and made yourself look like a complete twat all afternoon, just for them. They don’t even care what they look like, you could have just pulled out some old dandelions from your drive-way for all they care, so long as they actually believe you went into a flower shop and paid for them at the counter and felt sufficiently embarrassed.

ADAM: I tell you I really need to get drunk tonight.

VINCE: I’ll get them. You put your feet up. (He goes to the bar.)

NICK: What I don’t get is why you don’t just dump her, if all she’s doing is driving you mad the whole time?

ADAM: I don’t know, I suppose the truth is, I don’t actually want to break up with her, I mean I do actually quite like her, when she’s not driving me mad that is. I just wish there was some kind of passion control knob on her, or something, it’s like she wants me to be with her every minute of every day, I virtually have to chew my own arm off just to get away, so then of course I don’t want to see her as much, it’s a Catch 22.

NICK: Maybe she doesn’t want you to leave, because she’s afraid you’ll just go off looking for other women.

ADAM: Well she said as long as it was only a one-night stand, she could probably handle it?

NICK: You’re kidding? She gave you the pink ticket? At last a girl who understands men can’t be monogamous.

ADAM: But that’s not true, I was faithful to Lara for three years.

NICK: And how was that?

ADAM: Well, it wasn’t easy.

NICK: It never is for a guy.

ADAM: But I know guys who’ve remained faithful for years and they’re not always going on about what a struggle it is the whole time.

NICK: Are you referring to your friends from that little backwater town you come from?

ADAM: You mean Portsmouth?

NICK: (Ignoring him) I mean it’s not exactly hard being faithful if the second prettiest woman around’s got a hairy back and a facial tick and you drive a hay wagon, then I’m sure it’s easy to look her in the eye and go ‘I’m sticking with you my love.’ It’s when you’ve got some real choice going on that it starts to get difficult. I mean how many people who are rich and famous stay faithful?

ADAM: (Thinks.) Paul Newman. He’s been with Joanne Woodward for years, even when he was one of the biggest sex symbols in the world.

NICK: Who else?

ADAM: I don’t know. (Long pause) That guy from Hollyoaks, what’s his name?

NICK: Brilliant.

ADAM: (A moment’s pause) All right, Tim Henman.

NICK: Tim Henman. (Dryly.)

ADAM: So? Anyway, I’ll bet there’s loads of famous people who are faithful, you just don’t hear about them so much, because they’re not out sleazing in clubs the whole time, like us, they’re at home with their wives and kids.

NICK: Being good. (Makes whipping sound.)

VINCE: (Returns with drinks.) Sorry about that, it’s really rammed in there.

NICK: We were talking about famous people who are happily married. Trying to come up with examples.

VINCE: Erm…Paul Newman. (Nick turns to Adam with smug expression.) What?

NICK: Anyone else? Characters from fiction and born-again Christians don’t count.

VINCE: Probably not so many, I’m sure there’s a few, though. Actually Ted Dellar talks about that.

NICK: Who?

VINCE: The guy from the course, I finished it by the way.

NICK: Not that CD thing?

VINCE: Yeah, it comes under his 1 in 10 rule, except it works in reverse.

NICK: Here we go.

VINCE: He says it’s like the way about 1 in 10 women want casual sex rather than a relationship, its the same for men. 1 in 10 want a relationship rather than casual sex. And then the remaining 9 out of 10 guys are looking for relationships one tenth of the time. So it all fits together. I told you, it really makes sense.

NICK: So does this guy say anything about how to dump women, seeing as he must have had to do it a couple of thousand times? The Spaniard’s getting clingy. (Does impression of a limpet sticking to Adam’s arm.)

ADAM: I told you, I don’t want to get rid of her. I just want to tone her down a bit.

NICK: Maybe you should tell her you’ve fallen in love with someone else. That would probably cool it down a bit.

ADAM: That wouldn’t cool it down, that would kill it stone dead.

NICK: But why? You could still offer to shag her on the weekends or something. I’d love it if I the girl I was seeing was in love with someone else. Let some other poor sucker take the rap.

ADAM: (Looks at him in amazement.) This is a woman we’re talking about!

VINCE: Yeah, you’re taking away her dream of a relationship, that would be like some girl walking up to you and going “look I don’t mind kissing and holding hands and all of that, but I’ll never be able to actually have sex with you, you don’t mind do you?” You’d end it there and then wouldn’t you, even if she was the hottest girl in the world.

NICK: Why would she want to hold hands, but not have sex?

VINCE: I don’t know, maybe she’s a nun.

NICK: What? And nuns go around trying to pull guys in clubs, do they?

VINCE: (Exasperated) Look that’s not the point. The point is…you wouldn’t bother, would you? You’d end it right there.

NICK: Yeah, I would, especially if she was a nun.

ADAM: Which would be a shame really, because I do still like her, and she gives great head.

NICK: Well why didn’t you say that before?

VINCE: I was seeing this girl for about three months who wouldn’t suck me off.

ADAM: A vegetarian? And you lasted three months?

NICK: Now that is plain rude if you ask me. I mean how many erogenous zones has a man got?

VINCE: (Counting on his fingers) Balls, dick.

NICK: While women are absolutely bloody covered in them. It’s so unfair, they get so much more out of sex than we do.

ADAM: What?

NICK: It’s true. How many times have you had to listen to some couple having sex in another room? It’s never the man doing the yelling is it? And then when you do have sex with them, they make out like it’s them doing us the favour.

ADAM: They might just be faking the noise, it does happen you know?

NICK: Look, women get far more out of sex than us, it’s not even opinion, it’s a medical fact. A woman has double as many nerve endings in her clitoris alone than a man has in his entire dick.

VINCE: God, really? Maybe that’s why we like threesomes so much. Twice as many women, to make up for half as many nerve-endings.

NICK: Twice as much work though.

VINCE: But then you have got an extra pair of hands to help out.

ADAM: I’m not sure I could go for a two-for-one deal, I mean, in reality. Imagine if you couldn’t get it up, it’d be so humiliating.

VINCE: But it’d be twice the turn-on.

ADAM: But there must come a point surely? What about if there were three women?

NICK: God, I’d never even considered three women before. Imagine that! Nine holes, (gazes into distance.) … that’s…half a golf course.

ADAM: Urgh! So Vince, how have you been? You seem a bit more up than last month.

VINCE: Yeah, I told you, I finished the course, my sub-conscious has been completely re-programmed. All self-doubt and negativity has been erased.

ADAM: I must admit you do seem a bit more…yeah, confident I suppose.

NICK: Just as ugly mind.

VINCE: Even if I took that remark seriously, it wouldn’t bother me. It’s not how you look that a woman cares about, it’s how you look at them.

NICK: (Suspiciously) That sounds horribly like a quote. You really have been programmed haven’t you? (In Californian accent) “Women love my cock, women love my cock.”

ADAM: (Mobile rings) Shit it’s her. (Picks up phone) Hello, sorry what’s that? Sorry I can’t hear you properly. What? No, it’s loud in here… no, I said it’s loud…no loud…look will you please stop shouting at me, it’s not my fault if…yeah, no, I said…look I’m not deaf, why are you shouting at me? No, oh my God, look even if I was deaf, it wouldn’t be my fault would it? Shouting at me’s not going to help.

NICK: Actually I’d have thought if you were deaf, shouting probably would help.

ADAM: Look I’ll call you later. Okay, bye. (Presses button on phone.) God I hate these things, whoever thought of “It’s good to talk” should have been shot.

VINCE: You should never say that, it’s something we really take for granted.

ADAM: What is?

VINCE: Just being able to talk, that’s why I feel so sorry for animals. That must be awful.

NICK: But animals don’t need to talk do they, I mean what are they going to say to each other? “You know I just had the most fantastic banana this morning, I really have to tell you about it.”?

VINCE: I’m sure things happen to them sometimes.

NICK: Like what?

VINCE: I don’t know. Okay, like what about that bit of film they sometimes show of the seal walking on the beach and suddenly that killer whale leaps right out from the sea and tries to eat it, but it just manages to get away.

ADAM: You mean the Life On Earth clip?

VINCE: That’s the one. I mean imagine if that happened to you. If you were relaxing on the beach and suddenly a dirty great bloody whale leapt out from nowhere and you only managed to escape within an of inch of your life, you’d want to tell someone about it, wouldn’t you? Instead all you can do is go and back and sit down with all the other seals and go “aw aw.” (Flaps arms in seal impersonation.)

ADAM: Wow, I see what you’re saying, going to your grave with a story like that! Actually that reminds me of this film I once saw of this mongoose, and it had to look after it’s litter for a few hours while the mother went out looking for food, and then this dingo or something came along and attacked the nest, and it tried to fight it off, like for ages, risked his life and everything, but the dingo got all the babies, anyway. And then when the mother came back and saw all the mess, you can tell she must have been thinking “I leave you with the kids for two hours and look what happens.” Poor guy couldn’t say a thing.

VINCE: You see. Is the plural of mongoose, mongeese?

NICK: (Who has been listening to them in semi-disbelief.) It’s mongooses.

VINCE: Mongooses? Are you sure, that doesn’t sound right to me (to himself) Mongooses.

ADAM: Anyway, come on, let’s check out the main room. “

NICK: Anything to put a stop to this conversation.

ADAM: Vince? “He who hesitates…

VINCE: …masturbates.” I know. You know I’m not even worried, do you ever get that feeling when you just know you’re going to pull, even before you’ve left your house?

ADAM: That course is really having an effect isn’t it?

(Nick is already up and looking into the main room when he suddenly turns back to the others.)

NICK: My God, I think I’ve just seen the woman of my dreams.

ADAM: Don’t tell me someone’s dropped a copy of Razzle on the floor?

NICK: I’m not kidding, she’s fucking great.

ADAM: Where?

NICK: End of the bar, denim coat.

ADAM: Yeah, she’s not bad.

NICK: What do you mean, “not bad,” she’s amazing.

VINCE: My God, it’s not like you to get worked up over a real woman.

NICK: I’m going to go up to her.

VINCE: Really?

NICK: Seriously, that’s the one I want. She’s really my type.

VINCE: Wow.

NICK: Come on, man. Give us a tip, I need a chat-up line.

VINCE: Oh, so now you want to know how it’s done. You’ve suddenly changed your tune.

NICK: Come on, stop fucking about.

VINCE: All right, keep your hair on.

NICK: Come on, come on, I don’t want her to get away.

VINCE: Okay, all right, relax, my God! You really are serious aren’t you? Okay, okay. All right the thing is, it’s primarily about confidence, but that’s not something I can just give to you like that. That’s what all that subliminal stuff I mentioned is all about. So…apart from that, he talks about how to get their attention, either by going up to them or getting them to come up to you, you either choose to hunt or to attract, it’s up to you.

NICK: Yeah, all right, I don’t need the whole course, just give me a chat up line or something. One that might work, preferably.

VINCE: Okay let me think.

NICK: Hurry up, I don’t want someone else to get her.

VINCE: Yeah okay, calm down, for fuck’s sake! Okay it sounds to me like what you need is something from his “low down and dirty” methods.

NICK: Yeah, that sounds like my style.

VINCE: Okay, let me think, now…hmm, there’s a good one for getting their attention that involves a five-pound note, but you have to work it out with the barman first.

NICK: Well that’s no good then is it?

VINCE: Okay, all right, just for you, okay. He says this is only meant for emergencies or special occasions, but seeing as how I’ve never seen you get this excited over a real girl before, I suppose it is quite an occasion. (He pulls out a small bag from his pocket) Here.

NICK: (He looks into the bag and pulls out a white plastic square.) What the fuck is this? It’s full of Scrabble pieces. What the hell am I supposed to do, ask her back for a game of Scrabble?

VINCE: No you idiot. It’s just the letters that matter, you can use anything so long as it’s got a letter on it, like those cheap little necklaces you get at fairgrounds or they have these little alphabet cards in the States apparently. I thought about using Smartie tops, but someone said they’ve stopped putting the letters on the end. Anyway luckily someone in the house had a Scrabble set.

ADAM: And luckily you happened to collect the letters, put them in a bag and bring it with you.

VINCE: Hey, it’s just a little bag. What’s the big deal?

ADAM: I don’t know, it’s just all starting to look a bit desperate.

NICK: You don’t even know what I’m supposed to do with them yet.

ADAM: I don’t think I want to know, whatever it is, I’m sure it’s sleazy.

VINCE: Look it’s just a little trick…thing, for special occasions.

ADAM: If it’s only for special occasions, how come you decided in advance to bring it with you?

VINCE: Because you don’t know when a special occasion’s going to come up do you? You could run into the dirtball of your dreams anywhere, you can’t very well go “do you mind just hanging around for a couple of hours while I nip home and get something.” Be prepared, you know?

ADAM: I don’t know, I thought this course was meant to be about developing self-confidence.

VINCE: It’s not just about that, anyway, having a couple of tricks up your sleeve, helps give you confidence.

ADAM: (Shakes his head, disapprovingly.) If you ask me this course has cost you more than just £100.

NICK: Fucking give it a rest will you, Mother Theresa, he’s not asking you to do it. So come on, tell me what I’m supposed to do, I don’t want her to fuck off.

VINCE: Okay, okay! All right, first what you do, is you go up to her, you don’t have to say anything funny or smart, just a simple “hi”, whatever, just try to make it non-threatening, do you think you can manage that?

NICK: Yes, you git, now come on!

VINCE: All right, so then you introduce yourself, “Hi I’m Nick” and you ask her what her name is, that’s important, you have to get her name early on.

NICK: Get her name, okay.

VINCE: Okay, so then you just chat for a bit, small talk, anything, just try to make her feel as relaxed as possible. And so then when you feel like she’s not going to suddenly leg it the moment your back’s turned, you tell her you have to make a visit to the little boy’s room.

NICK: All right, then what?

VINCE: Okay, so then while you’re in there, you go through the bag I gave you, and pull out whichever letter her name begins with, a ‘C’ if she’s called Christine, for example.

NICK: Got it.

VINCE: And then you put it in a separate pocket, away from the other letters.

NICK: Separate pocket, okay, then what?

VINCE: Then you go back and pick up the conversation again, and you try and keep it going until you’re sure she’s starting to feel comfortable with you, then, as soon as there’s a lull in the conversation, you suddenly turn to her, look right into her eyes, and you say something like, “look I know this might sound a bit weird to you, but when I was on my way here, this really strange thing happened to me.” (Adam is shaking his head.) Of course, she’ll go “what was that?” So then you say “well, I was just walking along, when I saw something lying on the pavement, just some little square on the ground, and I don’t know why, but for reason it really caught my eye, and I just had this really strong urge to reach down and see what it was and then I saw it was a piece from a Scrabble board.” Obviously if you were using a necklace you’d say a necklace.

NICK: Yeah, I figured that. Go on.

VINCE: So then you go something like “so then I turned it over to see what the letter on it was, and then just as I did it, it was like there was this voice in my head saying ‘this will be the initial of your next girlfriend.’” And then you hand her the piece with her initial on it, you might want to add “I know this probably sounds silly to you, it’s just that I felt this really strong draw to you the moment I saw you,” or something like that.

NICK: So then what?

VINCE: Then nothing. You don’t say anything more about it, just carry on the conversation as normal, don’t even try to make a move on her at the end of the night, from then on you let her do all the work.

ADAM: This is blatantly leading her on.

NICK: Who cares? What I want to know is will she fall for it? I mean it sounds pretty dumb to me.

ADAM: (Sighing) I have a horrible feeling she might.

VINCE: Dellar says it’s one of the most successful pulling tricks there is. It employs the three key ingredients women love the most. It makes them think you’re looking for a long-term relationship rather than just a shag, it makes you sound sensitive and it suggests an element of fate and destiny.

ADAM: Yeah, women love all that “our love was written in the stars” crap. It’s like an aphrodisiac to them.

NICK: Well then, fuck it, I’m prepared to give it a shot. (He stuffs the bag into his pocket.) Cheers mate, I’ll see you later. (He walks off into the main room.)

VINCE: (Seeing Adam shaking his head still.) Come on, it’s just a bit of fun, you know? And to help make a good first impression.

ADAM: Hmm.

VINCE: I mean, how often does Nick get laid, he needs all the help he can get. And it’s not like it’s all rubbish, he did genuinely feel drawn to her, didn’t he? I mean that was full on.

ADAM: (Resignedly) Yeah, all right. So do you think it’ll work?

VINCE: I don’t know, I guess we’ll find out.

ADAM: Yeah…hang on. (Pulls out his phone) Text. (He presses a couple of buttons) God.

VINCE: Katalina?

ADAM: Oh no! She says she misses me. Can you believe that?

VINCE: That’s quite sweet.

ADAM: Yeah, if I hadn’t seen her in a few weeks, but I just spent the whole day with her didn’t I? How can she miss me already? I’ve only got to pop out for a loaf of bread and it’s “I really missed you” my God! And then of course she always looks at me with these big sad eyes expecting me to say it back, but I just can’t seem to do it or if I try and lie, she just goes “you don’t really mean that” and gets even more upset. I never miss girls, the only time I miss a girl, is when they’re really gone, for real, then I miss them, then it makes sense to me. Maybe I’m just missing the “missing” gene.

VINCE: Maybe. Hey, I wonder how Nick’s getting on.

ADAM: Oh yeah.

VINCE: (He has a look.) Well, he’s still talking to her. Or more to the point, she’s still talking to him.

ADAM: What’s the betting he fucks up?

VINCE: (Looks again) I don’t know, he doesn’t seem to have put her off so far. This is pretty good going for him, normally they’ve walked off in disgust by this point. She actually looks like she’s interested in him. Ooh a bit of a laugh there, he’s doing well…Now he’s buying her a drink, less likely to fuck off, good one Nick, thinking on your feet. Come on man, you can do this.

ADAM: I don’t know who I’m rooting for here, half of me wants to run up to her, “Get away now, while you still have the chance.”

VINCE: It’s looking good so far, good body language, feet towards him, good eye contact too, she’s looking right at him. Okay he’s saying something, I think he’s…yes, he’s getting up, he’s going to go to the gents, he’s off to get the letter. Now is she going to stick around? That’s the question…Yes, I think…yes she’s staying, well done Nick you kept her there, my God she’s checking her hair, she’s actually making an effort, for Nick!

ADAM: This is wrong.

VINCE: Come on, give the guy a break.

ADAM: Yeah, all right. (They wait silently for a few seconds.)

VINCE: Okay he’s coming back. He’s not hanging about. Come on, Nick. Okay, he’s sitting down, they’re back to chatting. (He says all this as if he’s a horse he’s placed a bet on.) She’s still looking interested, yup, she’s smiling again, good work, Nick, come on, you can do this, now he’s… yes, he’s reaching into his pocket, he’s got the letter in his hand, I think he’s about to say the line. Yup, he’s looking into her eyes, this is it. Come on, man, don’t fuck this up, don’t fuck up.

ADAM: (Has a brief look before turning away again.) I can’t watch this.

VINCE: Okay, now he’s handing her the letter, come on, Nick! Okay, here it comes…now what’s she going to do? (Adam winces) Okay, she’s smiling, all right, she’s…yes…yes…she’s…YESSSS!!! My God (Punches the air, as if his horse has just won) Ted Dellar you’re a fucking genius!

ADAM: What? What happened? Let me have a look.

VINCE: (Signalling not to bother.) It’s done man, he’s done it. (Elated.) My God, that was fucking amazing.

ADAM: What the fuck happened?

VINCE: She only bloody kissed him, right on the lips, I mean it was just for a second or two, but she did it. (Starting to calm down) That was even better than I expected.

ADAM: (He has a look.) Shit, now she’s holding his hand. (They both return to where they were standing.) Jesus, I didn’t think it would work that quick. I wasn’t sure it would work at all. I don’t think I’ve pulled that fast in my life.

VINCE: I told you the course was good.

ADAM: Yeah, okay!

(Suddenly Nick appears wearing a smile.)

VINCE: You did it man, I fucking saw you.

NICK: Yeah I know you did, I could hardly concentrate, with you jumping around like a deranged squaw.

VINCE: I’m sorry. It worked though didn’t it? I told you. And all you two did was take the piss.

NICK: Yeah all right.

ADAM: So come on then, what are you doing talking to us, you’ve got to get back in there and close the deal.

NICK: I already have, that’s why I’m here. I need to borrow a tenner for the cab.

ADAM: You mean you’ve already got her to come home with you? That took like, minutes.

NICK: Nah, we’re not going back just yet, she just wants to go somewhere a bit quieter, we’re off to the Troy.

VINCE: That’s still really good.

NICK: Yeah she’s cool, I like her…(Adam hands him a note.) Cheers. I’ll give it back next time I see you.

VINCE: Remember from now on, you let her make the moves.

NICK: All right, I’ll see you soon yeah? Hey, I almost forgot, (he hands Vince back the bag.) You’re going to need another ‘S’.

VINCE: Susan, Sarah?

NICK: Sofia.

ADAM: Ooh Sofia!

VINCE: Have a good night. (Nick leaves with a grin.)

ADAM: Unbelievable.

VINCE: I’m happy for him though.

ADAM: It’s her I feel sorry for.

VINCE: (Suddenly turns his head) Oh my God, did you see her, the dark one? Come on, let’s get in there. I can feel the moment.

ADAM: All right. Oh shit, hang on. (His phone rings.) Yeah, hello, yeah sorry, I got a bit caught up. What? No, hang on I’ll turn it up. (Looks at phone then presses a couple of buttons.) All right, that’s better, what’s up? Yuh, yuh (Looks at Vince and rolls his eyes.) Yuh, okay, don’t worry, I’ll come over, yeah, no it’s fine, I’ll see you in a bit, all right, bye then. (He switches off his phone.) Fuck.

VINCE: What’s it this time?

ADAM: Her cat had kittens and one’s just died. Listen, I’m really sorry, I’m going to have to shoot.

VINCE: Don’t worry about me, what about you?

ADAM: Yeah, well. Anyway, you have a good night, yuh?

VINCE: Yeah, I’ll call you.

ADAM: Cheers.

(Vince picks up his drink and slowly saunters into the main room with a self-assurance we haven’t seen before.)

(LIGHTS DIM)

ACT 3.

SCENE 2:

Vince’s room the following morning. Vince is lying asleep with one arm hanging out of the bed. We can see someone is lying next to him, but can’t see who it is as the bedclothes are covering her face. It is only as she starts to come awake that we realize who the girl is.

SELINA: Wakey, wakey.

VINCE: (Slowly opening his eyes, and looking completely awful, it takes him a few seconds before he is able to focus.) Oh Jesus…Selina.

SELINA: And how are you this bright and breezy morning? (She doesn’t wait for Vince to answer and instead jumps onto the bed in front of him.) I have just had the most amazing dream, do you want me to tell you about it?

VINCE: (Looking like he might be sick at any second.) Er maybe not right this…

SELINA: Okay, okay, first I was in this field, I don’t know where exactly, I think it might have been Surrey or somewhere near my parents, maybe, anyway, I was running from something, I’m not sure what, I don’t think it was that scary though, because suddenly I looked and right in front of me was this big, and I mean really big…

VINCE: I think I’m about to be sick.

SELINA: What? Urgh, you can’t be sick.

VINCE: Can you just give me a moment?

SELINA: (Waits about ten seconds, looking slightly pissed off at being interrupted.) Are you better now?

VINCE: Yuh, I think it’s passing.

SELINA: Thank God for that. I don’t want you being sick on me. So what have you got to do today, anyway?

VINCE: Er, I don’t know, I think I might just stay in and try to recover.

SELINA: That’s okay, I can look after you.

VINCE: (Slightly panicked.) No, really, don’t worry, I’ll be fine, anyway I have to erm…finish this song.

SELINA: (Looking annoyed) What song? Can’t you do that another day?

VINCE: But that’s what I do, I write songs.

SELINA: Yeah I know you played me your CD. Have you ever thought of being an actor? I think you’d make a good actor.

VINCE: (Pauses, taking in the implication.) No.

SELINA: Or maybe you should be some other kind of writer, maybe you could write sitcoms. Did you know in America they have whole teams of writers for their shows, whereas here it’s usually just one or two, that would suit you, lazy bones. Then again they have really long series, like thirty episodes or something, whereas here it’s usually only 6 or 7, so it might be more work in the end, you’d have to work it out, it’d be like thirty divided by how ever many in the team. Do you like television?

VINCE: Yeah, I don’t mind it.

SELINA: I don’t know what I’d do without TV, especially comedies, they can be so funny.

VINCE: Yeah.

SELINA: I like documentaries too. And history stuff, like Time Team, (getting excited) that kind of thing.

VINCE: Yeah, look I think I should probably try to get back to sleep.

SELINA: What about your song?

VINCE: I don’t know, I might become an actor instead.

SELINA: I said you should be an actor.

(Vince puts his hands over his eyes.)

(THE LIGHTS DIM)

ACT 4.

SCENE 1:

Inside club one month later.

ADAM: So definitely no Nick tonight?

VINCE: Nah. I tried calling him and he just goes “sorry, can’t make it tonight, I’m busy.” I mean how lame is that?

ADAM: Yeah.

VINCE: He can’t even blame it on his course, he had his finals two weeks ago, he didn’t even want to go out and celebrate.

ADAM: I haven’t seen him all month.

VINCE: The only time I actually saw him, was outside Stables Market, with Sofia. It was really odd, it was like he couldn’t get away fast enough, like I had some kind of disease or something, I couldn’t work it out.

ADAM: It must really be serious then.

VINCE: You mean with Sofia?

ADAM: Well yeah, why else would he be staying in the whole time?

VINCE: I still don’t see why he was being so strange with me, he looked really on edge.

ADAM: He was probably just worried in case you let something slip. I mean you know all his secrets, don’t you?

VINCE: Nick doesn’t have secrets. He never tries to hide anything.

ADAM: I bet he does now. I mean if she knew some of the stuff we know. Remember the plate of liver story?

VINCE: God yeah, I see what you mean. Still, it’s not like I’m just going to just blurt it all out, anyway he could still see us on his own, couldn’t he?

ADAM: Yeah, but he’s got a friend he can have sex with now, what does he need us for?

VINCE: Yeah, I suppose, it’s just so…disappointing. If there’s one person I never thought would do that whole “I’ve got a girlfriend, I don’t need my friends anymore” routine, it was Nick.

ADAM: It’s always the rebels who sell out first.

VINCE: So do you think that’s the way it works then, you either get a girlfriend and dump all your mates or you spend the rest of your life searching for empty one-night stands?

ADAM: Perhaps. Anyway a life of one-night stands isn’t such a bad option.

VINCE: Hmm. (He stares into his drink for a few seconds)

ADAM: Talking of which, fancy checking out the blart?

VINCE: I don’t know, man, I’m not sure I can be bothered.

ADAM: Fuck, what’s with you?

VINCE: I don’t know, I just feel so…old lately.

ADAM: Not that again!

VINCE: I’m sorry, but how long can I keep doing this?

ADAM: Come on, you’re as old as you feel.

VINCE: In that case I’m ancient. All the women look so young too, is it me or them? There‘s one in there that looked about sixteen, what are you supposed to say to someone like that?

ADAM: “Would you like some sweeties?”

VINCE: That’s exactly how I feel right now, like some old pervert.

ADAM: Look you’ve really got to get over this whole age paranoia shit, there’s people in their sixties pulling women, look at Peter Stringfellow.

VINCE: Yeah, and that’s exactly who I don’t want to end up like. Anyway, it’s easy for him, he’s got his own lap-dancing club. Right now, I couldn’t pull a fucking…ring can.

ADAM: I don’t get it, you were so confident last month, what about your course?

VINCE: Don’t talk to me about that, please.

ADAM: Why not? You never did say what happened that night.

VINCE: Honestly forget about it.

ADAM: Come on, I know you ended up with Selina again, but what about before that, what about the dark one you were going to go for, just before I had to leave?

VINCE: Honestly, can we drop it?

ADAM: Come on, man, tell me. What happened?

VINCE: Really it’s too painful. (Sighs) All right if you really want to know I’ll tell you. You remember the Scrabble pieces?

ADAM: Oh no, don’t tell me you ended up using them as well.

VINCE: ‘Fraid so.

ADAM: Oh you little scumbag! So go on, don’t tell me she was an S, and Nick had the only one.

VINCE: Worse man, much worse.

ADAM: Really? But I thought it was guaranteed.

VINCE: I never said it was guaranteed. Anyway, that wasn’t the problem. All right, (sighs again) okay, so I see the one I liked, Daniella her name was, she was French.

ADAM: Okay, go on.

VINCE: All right, so we’re doing all right, chatting away, getting along, not brilliantly, maybe, but it was okay, and I’ve got her name by this point.

ADAM: Right.

VINCE: So then I make my excuses, tell her I need to go to the gents, to look for the ‘D’, for Daniella. And when I get back she’s still there, so far so good.

ADAM: Okay.

VINCE: Okay, so we go back to whatever we were talking about, and everything’s fine, like I say, not amazing chemistry, but we’re getting on.

ADAM: Okay, go on.

VINCE: Okay, so then I give her the whole “you know, earlier on today, I was walking along and I happened to see this square on the ground” spiel, you remember, yuh?

ADAM: The bullshit, of course I do. So then what happened, you give her the ‘D,’ then what?

VINCE: Oh God. Okay, so she bought it. I mean she didn’t suddenly go “please come home and screw me senseless,” but it had its effect, she was definitely more interested than before. So then after half an hour or so, I say “so do you fancy coming back to mine, you know I’ve got some booze, a bit of spliff.”

ADAM: I thought once you gave her the letter, it was down to her to make all the moves.

VINCE: Yeah, well, this one didn’t seem quite as wide-eyed as Nick’s. And also I was starting to get a bit pissed by then, you know. Anyway, she goes “okay, cool,” so then I tell her “look I’ve just got to go to the loo,” which by this time was true, I did. Like I say I’d had a few beers.

ADAM: Yeah, all right.

VINCE: (Beginning to wince) Except by this time, we’d been talking for a while, and the room was quite hot, so I’d taken my jacket off, hung it on the back of my chair.

ADAM: What with the Scrabble pieces still inside?

VINCE: Inside pocket, sticking out.

ADAM: Oh no.

VINCE: (Really wincing) Yup.

ADAM: Oh God. So what, she sees this bag sticking out of your pocket, thinks, “I wonder what that is?” (Vince nods) Takes a look and by the time you got back she was gone.

VINCE: It’s worse, really.

ADAM: What?

VINCE: On the bar, in Scrabble pieces. W.A.N.K.E.R.

ADAM: (Wincing himself now) Oh Jesus.

VINCE: Every time I think about it, my buttocks clench up. I think I’m going to need an operation to get them prized apart.

ADAM: God, no wonder you’re not at the top of your game right now.

VINCE: It keeps coming back to me, like some horrible flashback.

ADAM: I really feel for you.

VINCE: I just can’t believe I did it, I went totally against my instincts, it was so fucking stupid. It’s just because I got drunk.

ADAM: Shit.

VINCE: And I was feeling so confident up until then. I should have listened to you, man, the whole thing was wrong.

ADAM: You still managed to get it on with Selina though?

VINCE: Well that didn’t take much work.

ADAM: Man.

VINCE: I know, I know.

ADAM: Fuck it, you’ve just got to put it behind you, move on, forget it.

VINCE: It’s hard, man. Maybe it was meant to be, maybe it was just God’s way of telling me to quit.

ADAM: Come on, you can’t start thinking like that. It’s just one brush-off. You probably just need to listen to those CDs again, take a refresher course, get your confidence back.

VINCE: Ah, I’m through with that course, man. It’s all bullshit.

ADAM: But it seemed to work all right for Nick.

VINCE: Yeah, well, I suppose it wasn’t all rubbish, I just think the guy got his maths wrong, you know. There probably are women out there who only want to get laid, but it’s nearer to 1 in 100 than 1 in 10, and there’s just not enough filthbuckets to go round.

ADAM: It just means you have to work a bit harder that’s all.

VINCE: I’m not sure if I can be bothered any more.

ADAM: Come on, you can’t expect to pull women if you freak out every time one of them turns you down.

VINCE: It’s not just that, though. I mean even if I had ended up sleeping with her, it probably wouldn’t have been that great, I mean it never is, is it?

ADAM: What are you talking about?

VINCE: One-night stands. I mean they’re great in theory, but the reality’s never anything like that, they’re never as good as the fantasy.

ADAM: Sometimes the reality’s better. Remember the businesswoman I told you about, with the cable porn and the toys, I still think about her.

VINCE: Yeah, but how often do you get one like that?

ADAM: Often enough to keep you out there. It’s like the occasional win that keeps the gambler down the dog track.

VINCE: That might be a bit too good an analogy.

ADAM: Look, it’s just because you’ve had a dry spell, you’re forgetting how great they can be. That feeling when you’re in the cab with your tongue down some hot chick’s throat, knowing in about twenty minutes, she’ll be jumping up and down on you with her titties in your face…that’s like the best feeling in the world. There’s nothing like that, it’s like your birthday, Xmas and…the Mardi Gras, all in one.

VINCE: Yeah, but half the time the cab journey’s the best bit, you know that whole anticipation thing? It’s never how you really want it once you actually get down to business, there’s always something not quite right. And most of the time it’s not a true one-night stand anyway. Normally you’ve had to take them out at least two or three times first, and if a couple of nights of her going on about the new Bloc Party single or the time she met Graham Coxon down the Good Mixer hasn’t put you off, and you do manage to finally get past her bra straps without her first going “ooh I don’t normally do this kind of thing, maybe I should call a cab,” then she either lies there like (he sticks his arms and legs out like a corpse) or she’s so desperate to please, she gives you some excruciating blow-job and every time you screw your face up in agony, she thinks you’re getting off on it and starts going at it even harder. And that’s meant to be the good part! Then you’ve still got the whole morning-after farago to deal with. All that “should I ask for her phone number, even though I’ve got absolutely no intention of calling her again as long as I fucking live, but then if I don’t she‘s going to think I’m a right bastard,” nightmare. So you ask for it anyway, just to get yourself off the hook, but then you usually end up running into her in some club sooner or later, and she either ends up making daggers at you the whole night or else she’ll be following you round with a long face, wondering what she did wrong that made you not call, but whatever happens there’s no way you’ve any chance of pulling any one else as long as she’s in the room. I mean it’s ridiculous, the whole scene, you, me, all of it, we spend half our time trying to pull them and the other half trying to get rid of them. I mean can’t you see how ridiculous it all is?

ADAM: My God, you’ve got it bad haven’t you?

VINCE: That was what I was trying to tell you. I’m sick of it. I’m fucking sick of the whole thing. (Sighs. Looking only slightly relieved to have got this off his chest.)

ADAM: Look, you’ve got to trust me here, all you need is a bit of quality A1 filth, no more of this Selina nonsense. Then you’ll be fine, then you’ll remember why you put up with all the dry nights and victory will be all the sweeter.

VINCE: But, that’s no good either. I mean if someone’s that great you’re going to want to see them again aren’t you? Especially knowing how hard it is to get a decent shag, so before you know it, you’re in a relationship, which is what you were trying to avoid in the first place wasn’t it? I mean you’re screwed whatever happens.

ADAM: Well what do you want then?

VINCE: I don’t know, man, I really don’t. Anyway, fuck it, what about you? How’s the Spaniard?

ADAM: Katalina? Finished it.

VINCE: What? You did the deed? You didn’t tell me that.

ADAM: Yeah, last week.

VINCE: Shit, how’d she take it?

ADAM: Well, not great, obviously.

VINCE: Tears?

ADAM: Oh yeah.

VINCE: Pleading?

ADAM: Averaging three calls a day.

VINCE: Poor thing.

ADAM: Aah she’ll be fine, girls always recover quick. A couple of months from now, she’ll be with some other guy and won’t even remember my name.

VINCE: Come on.

ADAM: It’s true. I always used to think it was women who were the weak and vulnerable ones, just because they’re the ones usually doing all that “I can’t live without you” stuff, but if you ask me, most of the time they’re stronger than us.

VINCE: Do you really think?

ADAM: Yeah man. We might not fall in love so easily, but when we do, it’s usually pretty serious. And when it’s over…now that’s something that can really mess with a guy’s head…then its usually one last desperate plea to check she’s not just trying to prove some point and then off we go and quietly slash our wrists.

VINCE: My God.

ADAM: Well it’s not usually that bad, but still…we take longer to fall in love, and longer to recover, we just tend to keep it to ourselves more.

VINCE: Maybe it’s because we don’t talk about how we feel that it takes us so long to recover, whereas girls aren’t as afraid to talk about their emotions.

ADAM: Well that’s for sure! I still don’t get how women can do that, talking away for hours on end about nothing but their feelings, without going totally fucking insane.

VINCE: We do talk about sex quite a bit though, don’t we?

ADAM: Really? I hadn’t noticed. (Smiles.)

VINCE: Hey listen, I think I’m going to head off.

ADAM: What already?

VINCE: Yeah, I’m sorry, man, I’m just not in the mood tonight, mojo’s not happening.

ADAM: Are you sure?

VINCE: Yeah…what are you going to do?

ADAM: I think I’m going to have a bit of a look around first. (Looking concerned.) Are you going to be all right?

VINCE: Yeah, don’t worry I’m okay, I just need a break. In more ways than one.

ADAM: All right then. (Still concerned.) Give us a call yeah? I mean if you want to… talk or anything.

VINCE: Don’t worry, I’ll be okay. Thanks though. Have a good night, man.

ADAM: Yeah, and you, man.

(LIGHTS DIM)

ACT 4.

SCENE 2:

Vince’s room, following morning. Vince awakes looking sober for once. He briefly looks out of the window, before slowly starting to get dressed, then half way through buttoning his shirt, he seems to lose interest and sits on the side of the bed, staring into space, looking lost in his thoughts.

(CURTAINS CLOSE)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

INTERVAL

ACT 5.

SCENE 1:

Inside club, one year later.

ADAM: All right Vince.

VINCE: All right there.

ADAM: No Holly tonight?

VINCE: She’s on her way. Hey, you’ll never guess who else is coming down.

ADAM: I give up, who?

VINCE: Nick. He called me earlier.

ADAM: You’re joking? Nick? My God, how’d he sound?

VINCE: Not great to be honest. I think he’s trying to make out he’s okay, but you know…

ADAM: I suppose he had to face the world sooner or later. How long’s it been now?

VINCE: You mean since she dumped him? I don’t know four months, maybe a bit longer.

ADAM: And he still hasn’t said why?

VINCE: No.

ADAM: You don’t think she found out about that Scrabble thing?

VINCE: I’m sure he’d have said if it was that.

ADAM: Maybe she just got bored.

VINCE: I don’t know, I thought she seemed pretty into him, the couple of times I saw them together.

ADAM: You know I never even got to meet to her. The only time I even saw what she looked like was when he went up to her the first time, in here. My God that was like…over a year ago.

VINCE: I know.

ADAM: Can you believe I haven’t seen him in more than a year? He hasn’t even

called me, not once, in over a year.

VINCE: I suppose that’s what happens when you fall in love.

ADAM: I still see you, though.

VINCE: Hey, who said I was in love?

ADAM: So how’s it been going with you two anyway? Still being a good boy?

VINCE: Not a single extra-curricular snog on my conscience.

ADAM: So, no offers then?

VINCE: Ha! The thing is, I haven’t even felt like it, you know, fucking around or any of that stuff, I mean I still stare at other women the whole time…

ADAM: Well of course.

VINCE: …but at the same time, I just haven’t felt like actually doing anything about it, you know, trying to pull them or any of that stuff, even if they’ve been giving signals. It’s almost like they don’t turn me on like they used to. Maybe it’s getting older…then again Holly and I are still at it like rabbits, it was like a scene from a porno last night. I think we’re even more full-on now than we were at the beginning. I always thought that thing about how the sex could get better was just something religious people said to try and make themselves feel better about never being able to sleep with anyone else, but I’m starting to see what they mean now.

ADAM: Well that’s great.

VINCE: I know…it’s just…I mean I’ve been out with some hot women in that past, you know? Nice people too, some of them, and yet somehow they never quite did it for me, not fully, I could always walk away, or if they ended it I was never that bothered, not really, I was usually getting bored by then anyway. And now I realize I’m not getting bored, in fact the longer I know her the more interesting I seem to find her…and now I’m not sure how easily I could just walk away, if I had to for any reason, or how I’d feel if she did, it’s like I suddenly feel…

ADAM: Vulnerable?

VINCE: That’s it yeah, I feel vulnerable.

ADAM: This is really starting to sound like the big L.

VINCE: Fuck.

ADAM: Anyway you cross those bridges when you come to them, you may never have to.

VINCE: (Sighs) I guess…I suppose I’m just not used to all of this, I just find it all so…strange.

ADAM: In what way ‘strange’?

VINCE: Everything about it, even from the start, how we met, everything. I mean if someone hadn’t passed my CD to her magazine, she’d never have heard it, so we’d never have spoken, and then she’d never have done that interview and I’d never have got my deal.

ADAM: You were obviously lucky.

VINCE: Do you think that’s all it is, luck? It’s almost frightening to think it was just a coincidence that saved me from…God knows what.

ADAM: And so what, you think it’s all to do with destiny? The One and all that?

VINCE: I don’t know, I mean there’s so many odd things. Like the way we both like the same things, like Gram Parsons or the first Gene Clarke album, hardly anyone knows that stuff or they way we both like Truffaut, but can’t stand Godard…I mean its not like we never argue, but at the same time I’ve just never felt so comfortable with anyone else.

ADAM: So you’ve got a lot in common.

VINCE: But it feels like more than that somehow. It’s like the way a seagull will fly half way around the world just to find the right mate. Why doesn’t it just go for the one on the ledge next to it, it would save itself a lot of trouble, it’s not like seagulls have to worry about having stuff in common.

ADAM: “What kind of food are you into?” “Fish? Wow me too, isn’t that amazing.”

VINCE: Exactly or “what kind of music do you listen to?”

ADAM: “Flock of Seagulls.”

VINCE: That’s terrible.

ADAM: Sorry. Anyway I thought the reason they don’t breed with the ones next to them was because it weakened the gene pool or something.

VINCE: But don’t you find it at all odd? I mean the way it happens like that, not just with me and Holly, but with so many people. One person comes along who completely does it for them, and suddenly it’s like they just blow all the others out the water, the others don’t even come close. And the fact they feel the same way, the way it’s so often mutual, I mean don’t you think that’s at all strange? I even like the way her sweat smells.

ADAM: You see that just convinces me even more it’s down to some kind of chemical thing, pheromones or whatever. Anyway if it was all to do with fate, why do some people go for people who are plain bad for them, who just drive them crazy the whole time, like Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.

VINCE: Sid and Nancy.

ADAM: And the feeling’s not always mutual is it? I mean what about Nick?

VINCE: Yeah. Maybe it’s fate and pheromones.

ADAM: Maybe.

VINCE: Anyway, at least I’ve been able to concentrate on the music a bit more.

ADAM: Is it still going all right?

VINCE: Yeah, it’s all right you know? Single’s coming out next month, NME have promised to do another piece, Q’s doing one, it’s ok.

ADAM: Well if it all fucks up just make sure you never go into acting.

VINCE: Things that bad?

ADAM: “Adclaims Direct.” Need I say more? I could use a bit of fate’s helping hand right now.

VINCE: (Holly appears) Heya, how’s it going, how was work?

HOLLY: Don’t ask. (They kiss) Hey Adam, how are you?

ADAM: Yeah not bad thanks, Holly.

VINCE: Adam was just saying, even if it all fucks up, I should never go into acting.

HOLLY: Oh, he’s right, musicians always make terrible actors.

VINCE: I don’t think that was his point. Anyway, that’s not true, Mick was brilliant in Performance.

HOLLY: He was just playing himself though wasn’t he? That’s hardly acting. He was rubbish in everything else, I mean Ned Kelly for God’s sake.

ADAM: Bowie was pretty good in Man Who Fell To Earth.

HOLLY: He was still playing himself though basically, a misfit.

VINCE: I quite liked Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan.

HOLLY: Desperately Seeking Attention more like.

VINCE: Yeah I suppose she was just playing herself, now you come to mention it.

ADAM: Sting in Quadrophenia?

HOLLY: Pretentious twat.

VINCE: (In unison with Adam.) Playing himself. Okay, you win, I promise I’ll never act unless it’s to play a struggling genius. Do you want a drink?

HOLLY: Please, can you get us a rum and coke?

VINCE: Adam?

ADAM: Cheers. (Vince goes to the bar) Hey, did you hear Nick’s coming down?

HOLLY: Yeah, Vince mentioned. I can’t wait to finally meet the legendary Nick.

ADAM: I’m not sure how legendary he’s feeling at the moment.

HOLLY: Yeah, I heard he’s not taken it well. At least he’ll get to see his friends again, that should do him good.

ADAM: (Doubtfully) Hmm, maybe.

HOLLY: So how have you been anyway? Have you been checking out the “blart?”

ADAM: Actually I got a bit distracted, Vince and I got into a theological debate.

HOLLY: Oh yeah right!

ADAM: I did see one I didn’t mind, when I came through.

HOLLY: Let me guess, with the fringe and the kohl eyes, dancing.

ADAM: Red top? Forget that!

HOLLY: Why? She’s really pretty.

ADAM: Yeah, but you can tell she’s a right prude. It’d be three weeks before I’d even get my dick rubbed.

HOLLY: A lifetime of being told men just want a lady and finally I discover the truth. So which was the one you liked?

ADAM: Near the red top, blonde, Playboy tee shirt.

HOLLY: With the fat ankles? You’re not serious are you?

ADAM: I know she’s not perfect, but you can tell she’s a real dirtball, and as Nick used to say “a dirty girl who’s not that pretty, is worth twice as much as a pretty girl who’s not that dirty.”

HOLLY: Charming! What makes you think she’s “dirty” anyway? She looked quite straight to me.

ADAM: Are you joking?

HOLLY: Oh no, don’t tell me it’s because of the tee shirt?

ADAM: Well yeah! I mean it’s kind of nailing your colours to the mast, isn’t it?

HOLLY: Oh come on, you can’t be that naïve?

ADAM: What do you mean? We are we talking about the same girl? With the…

HOLLY: …Playboy tee shirt? Have you ever heard of the word “subterfuge?”

ADAM: What? (Defensively) But it’s not just that, it’s the way she was dancing and everything.

HOLLY: You mean (imitates “sexy” dance)? That’s all it takes is it? She might as well have “I am desperate for a boyfriend” written across on her forehead. And I thought you were supposed to know something about women.

ADAM: But…

VINCE: (Returning with drinks.) Here you go.

ADAM: Come on Vince, help me out, you must have seen the one with the Playboy tee shirt.

VINCE: On the dancefloor?

ADAM: (Nods) What would you say, filthbucket or what?

VINCE: Yeah, I’d have thought.

ADAM: You see?

HOLLY: (Sarcastically) Well if you two say so…Look if all she’d come here for was a shag, don’t you think she’d have found someone to leave with by now? Or do you think there aren’t any guys here looking for that sort of thing?

ADAM: Maybe she’s just waiting for someone she really fancies to come up.

HOLLY: Like you, you mean?

ADAM: I reckon I could pull her.

HOLLY: Want a bet?

ADAM: I’ll think about it. Anyway if she isn’t up for it, no girl here is.

HOLLY: Well maybe they’re not.

ADAM: “Hogamous higamous.”

HOLLY: What’s that?

ADAM: It’s what this writer guy, William James wrote down after he took nitrous oxide. “Hogamous, higamous, man is polygamous. Higamous, hogamous, woman is monogamous.” He thought he’d had a major revelation, stumbled on the ultimate truth.

HOLLY: And you agree with him?

ADAM: No I don’t.

HOLLY: Why not?

ADAM: Because it’s too simple, too neat, this idea that men just want sex and women just want relationships, like no girl is into casual sex at all. If that was true I’d never have got laid in my life.

HOLLY: Well maybe they were just hoping if they gave you a bit of what you wanted, they’d get a bit of what they wanted. I mean they were obviously very naive.

ADAM: I’m sorry but that’s just crap. The fact is women like one-night stands too. I’m not just trying to boast, but I’ve had girls scream down the walls before now.

HOLLY: What you’ve had them scream down the walls, on a first night?

ADAM: (Stops to think.) I don’t know…I mean, maybe not on the first night…but certainly after a few nights.

HOLLY: You mean like about the time it started to look like it might be turning into something a bit more serious?

ADAM: Oh come on, that is way too simple.

HOLLY: Is it?

ADAM: Look, I’ve had one-night stands with girls who knew damn well that’s all it was, and they still left smiling.

HOLLY: Okay, maybe they did, I just doubt the thing they enjoyed most was the same as what you enjoyed most.

ADAM: What do you mean?

HOLLY: Just that sometimes the only reason a girl has sex is to get to the cuddling after.

ADAM: No, you can’t say that, that is way too fucking depressing!

HOLLY: All right Adam, I admit, sometimes women do just get off on the sex. I’ve had one-night stands myself. I even enjoyed a couple of them.

VINCE: I don’t want to know that.

HOLLY: Don’t be such a hypocrite, you’re always going on about all the great one-night stands you’ve had.

VINCE: But that’s different, you don’t feel like breaking something, when I talk about them.

HOLLY: Anyway, to be honest, I’d probably have enjoyed them a lot more, if you’d all just slow down a bit, you know? At least give us time to get used to the idea, maybe get to know you a bit, instead of just jumping on us like you always do.

ADAM: But if you want to have sex, why not just cut to the chase? Why all the messing about?

HOLLY: But don’t you think it’s more of a turn, when you know them first?

ADAM: Not really no. Usually the longer I’ve known them the less I want to have sex with them, then they start to….

VINCE: …resemble human beings?

ADAM: Yeah. Or a friend or something. It starts to feel almost sordid once I know them.

HOLLY: God, you lot are weird. Anyway I thought you were trying to prove that men aren’t just looking for casual sex.

ADAM: But it’s true, I enjoyed my relationship with Lara, or some of it at least. I’m not against the idea of relationships completely.

HOLLY: I’m not against the idea of casual sex completely.

ADAM: But then why do you always make it so difficult for us, why has it always got to lead somewhere? What’s wrong with sex just for it’s own sake, it can be fun you know!

HOLLY: Maybe it’s some kind of natural defense mechanism, to safeguard us from men like you.

ADAM: Thanks.

HOLLY: Well you know there is a bit more at stake for us, in case you hadn’t noticed, it’s nice to know the guy’s not just going to piss off afterwards, leave us holding the baby, as it were.

ADAM: Yeah, all right.

HOLLY: But don’t you want to protect yourselves too, like from dodgy girls? I mean you’ve no idea what kind of person you could be sleeping with, they might be total bitches for all you know.

ADAM: Who cares, if you’re never going to see them again anyway.

VINCE: So long as they don’t steal something on the way out. (They both laugh in ‘bloke-ish’ manner)

HOLLY: I just don’t know how you can do that, it’s like you don’t care who you sleep with at all.

ADAM: But that’s not true, there’s got to be some chemistry.

HOLLY: But if you don’t even know what kind of people they are, how can you tell?

ADAM: It’s usually pretty easy, unless you’ve got tight trousers on.

HOLLY: (She looks quizzical for a second, before realizing what he is getting at.) Oh no, it can’t be that simple, surely?

ADAM: It’s a very reliable test.

HOLLY: All right, if all you want is one night of fun, but what if you’re looking for something a bit more…serious?

ADAM: Then it’s even more essential.

HOLLY: Oh come on!

ADAM: It’s true. How do you expect it to last the course if all he’s getting at the start is a semi?

HOLLY: But doesn’t the feeling, you know…grow? I’ve been with guys and felt almost nothing for them at first and then the longer I get to know them the more turned on I felt.

ADAM: Usually it’s the law of diminishing returns for me.

VINCE: Me too.

HOLLY: Oh come on!

ADAM: At least we know how we feel, you have to wait three weeks before you know if you even fancy a guy.

VINCE: And then you still have to ring up all your friends to know whether you should actually sleep with them.

ADAM: By which time he’s probably gone off the idea.

HOLLY: But if he hasn’t, you know he’s really hot for you. For me, that’s the real turn-on, knowing they’re really crazy about me, it’s all this half-hearted stuff I can’t stand. That’s why I like the idea of duels so much. Two men fighting to the death over you. I mean, can you imagine that? Mmm.

VINCE: Not your duel fantasy.

HOLLY: I reckon it’s every girl’s fantasy.

ADAM: You see, to me that’s sleazy. If two girls fought over me, I wouldn’t care who won, there’s no way I’d marry someone just because she happened to win a shoot-out, unless it was the one who’d given me the biggest hard-on to start with.

HOLLY: Well, I wouldn’t just go off with anyone. Usually I imagine it’s Johnny Deppa and Brad Pitt, sometimes Al Pacino.

VINCE: Fighting to the death over you? And you say men ask a lot.

ADAM: It’s just this idea of being able to go with whoever chooses you, I find so disturbing. It’s like some kind of throwback to caveman days, they hit you over the head with a club, drag you into their cave, and you just get up and go “so this is what I’ve got to work with, oh well better get on with it, I suppose.”

HOLLY: It’s probably just getting us ready for marriage.

ADAM: Maybe, I mean you even seem to be able to adapt yourselves in the bedroom. I had this RE teacher who met some bloke who was in the fetish scene, six months later she was doing dominatrix sessions.

HOLLY: He probably sulked until she gave in.

ADAM: But there’s no way I could change what turned me on like that, I’m into exactly the same things as I was when I was fourteen.

VINCE: Like fourteen-year-old girls you mean?

HOLLY: I’m not sure if I agree with this idea that it’s men who do all the choosing and the chasing. Even if you think you’re the one that’s chosen some girl or other, I bet half the time she’s already chosen you first. Checking you out for weeks, finding out if you’ve got a girlfriend, seeing which clubs you go to, without you even knowing about it.

VINCE: You mean stalking you?

HOLLY: If that’s what it takes. And then she’ll make sure she just happens to be in your line of vision, just as you go the bar.

VINCE: Blocking you off from the really cute one.

HOLLY: Exactly. That’s what we do.

ADAM: But it’s all a waste of time anyway, assuming all you want is a relationship like you say. I mean you can use all your female cunning and play all the games you like, but at the end of the day, it won’t get you anywhere. You might be able to get a guy into bed that way, but you’ll never be able to hold onto him. Because if it’s not happening in his pants, you may as well forget about anything long-term, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about that, that’s just a chemical thing. All your powers are useless. You see, you lot are always going on about how men don’t understand women, but there’s a lot of things you don’t understand about us.

HOLLY: Oh yeah, like what?

ADAM: Like what we really want.

HOLLY: And what would that be I wonder? You’ve just made it absolutely plain, as if it needed spelling out. Do you think there’s a girl alive who doesn’t know what a guy wants? It’s the first thing we learn at school for fuck’s sake. “Will you show me your knickers? Oh please. I’ll give you my lunch money.” My God.

ADAM: You might know what we want, but most of you haven’t a clue how to actually give it to us. I mean all those articles in Cosmo you’re always reading, “how to keep your man,” and all that, you’d have thought somewhere it might have said it helps to actually move around in bed a little, instead of “you’ve got to see me naked, I’ve done my bit, now it’s your turn.”

HOLLY: Well it’s your job to be good in bed, we have to look good. Imagine if we wore the kind of scuzzy stuff most of you go round in, what would you think of that? Anyway, just because you might jump around a bit when you’re having sex, doesn’t mean you’re any good at it…It’s you who’ve got no idea what women want.

ADAM: You don’t think we know what women want? We get told it fucking often enough. (In “girly” voice.) ”What we like is a guy who compliments us and notices when we’ve had our hair done, and takes us out for candlelit dinners…” Believe me, I know all about candlelit dinners, I just have a different idea of what I’d like to do with the candles.

HOLLY: Urgh Adam! That’s gross!! (Vince tries not to burst out laughing.)

ADAM: You see, the problem isn’t that we don’t know what you want, quite frankly, but that we can’t be arsed to give it to you, because, we all find it fucking boring.

HOLLY: Don’t worry Adam, because we all know what you want too. (She suddenly licks her finger and puts it between her legs, while simultaneously pushing one breast to her mouth and sticking her tongue out towards it, in porn star fashion.) The problem is…(she crosses her arms suddenly and sits as normal)…we just can’t be arsed to give it to you. (She pulls a triumphant “fuck you” expression.)

ADAM: Fucking hell, he’s here. Nick!

NICK: (Slightly stiffly) All right Adam, all right Vince.

ADAM: My God, how are you doing? It’s been a while.

NICK: Yeah, I’m doing great.

VINCE: Nick! Let me get you a beer. (He starts to get up.)

NICK: I already got one. (Holds up the bottle.)

VINCE: Oh yeah, right.

NICK: (Pulls up a chair.) I hope you don’t mind if I join you.

VINCE: Don’t be stupid, for God’s sake, come and join us man. (There is a brief uneasy silence.)

NICK: And how have you all been?

ADAM: Yeah, all right.

VINCE: Yeah, not bad.

NICK: So any changes since I’ve been away? (Turns to Holly.)

VINCE: Yuh, uh, Nick, Holly.

NICK: Hello Holly.

HOLLY: It’s nice to meet you, Nick, I’ve heard a lot about you.

NICK: Yeah, I’m sure you have.

HOLLY: No, it’s good.

NICK: I’m sure.

VINCE: So what about you? Come on what have you been up to?

NICK: Oh you know, staying in quite a lot.

VINCE: Right, yeah.

NICK: (“Conspiratorially” to Holly) In case Vince didn’t happen to mention, I got dumped a couple of months ago.

HOLLY: Yes, I know, I’m sorry.

NICK: I’m sure you are.

VINCE: Come on Nick, man. So what else have you been up to?

NICK: What else? Not a lot, really. (There is more uneasy silence.) Sorry, I hope I haven’t killed the conversation?

VINCE: No. No. (The others look a little awkward, but can’t think of anything to say.)

NICK: At least I must have provided a few laughs, while I’ve been away. “Every cloud…” as they say.

VINCE: What are you talking about?

NICK: Really, you don’t have to pretend. I’m not a complete idiot.

ADAM: No one’s been laughing at you Nick.

NICK: Look you don’t have to humour me, anyway it’s fine, I’m sure I would have done the same if I was in your shoes.

VINCE: What are you on about?

NICK: You seem to forget we’ve all sat and slagged off people like me before.

ADAM: What do you mean, “people like you?”

NICK: You know, people who get a girlfriend and then you never see them again, until it’s over. I’ve just completed the classic pattern now haven’t I? You’ve got every reason to gloat.

ADAM: For fuck’s sake Nick, give it a rest. No one’s gloating. No one’s fucking laughing at you.

VINCE: Yeah, come on, just chill out will you, we’re glad to have you back, it’s nice to see you, come on, man.

NICK: Okay, if that’s the way you want it.

ADAM: Fucking hell!

NICK: I was just asking for a bit of honesty, you know, to cut the crap, but that’s fine, if that’s not what you want.

ADAM: Jesus Fucking H. All right Nick, if you really want to cut the crap, let me ask you a question.

NICK: Sure.

ADAM: All right Nick, tell me, how come you didn’t manage to call me in over a year? I mean a whole year, Nick.

NICK: You want an honest answer? I don’t know.

ADAM: Oh great! That’s an honest answer is it? Fucking great.

NICK: All right, if you really want to know, I suppose I just thought if I’d called you, you’d probably have suggested we meet up and go for a drink or something and I didn’t particularly want to do that, so I didn’t call you.

ADAM: My company is that painful to you is it? (Nick shrugs) You didn’t want to meet me so badly that you couldn’t stand to risk make a fucking call, not even to see how I was doing? Jesus. (He pauses as he takes this in.) And so what about now, how come you don’t mind seeing me now?

NICK: I don’t know.

ADAM: Let me guess, is it because your girlfriend won’t speak to you any longer and now your first choice is no longer available, you call us instead? Is that it?

NICK: Well if we’re going to be completely accurate here, I didn’t actually call you, I called Vince.

ADAM: God, you’re a prick.

NICK: No, all right, to be fair, I knew you were bound to be here so I suppose you pretty much hit the nail on the head. You’re my second choice, both of you, roughly equally.

ADAM: Okay, thanks, it’s just nice to know. (Shakes head.) You know some people would hit you for saying that.

NICK: Is that what you want to do?

ADAM: Part of me does Nick, yeah.

NICK: Well at least we know where each other stands.

ADAM: Yeah, I feel much happier now.

NICK: I’m just trying to be truthful.

ADAM: Well maybe it’s not always good to tell the whole truth.

NICK: I’ll bear that in mind. So anything else you’d like to know?

ADAM: No, no, that’s fucking beautiful.

NICK: Good. (There is an even uneasier silence. The only person who doesn’t look uncomfortable is Nick, who seems almost to be enjoying the whole situation. He looks around the room, as if wondering who else to go for.) So Holly, how about you?

HOLLY: What about me?

NICK: Are you okay?

VINCE: Hey man, don’t start on her.

NICK: What do you mean? I just asked how she was.

HOLLY: It’s okay Vince. (She gently puts her hand on Vince’s.) I’m fine, Nick, thanks.

NICK: And everything going well with you and Vince?

VINCE: Come on, give it a rest, yeah?

NICK: I’m just asking a simple question.

HOLLY: It’s okay. It’s obvious he’s still hurting.

NICK: (This appears to be the moment Nick has been waiting for.) Oh yeah, that’s right, of course. I mean you know all about me, don’t you? I mean how long have we known each other now, what would you say, three minutes, four perhaps? But then why should that stop you from making a judgement about me. You’re a woman after all, I mean, it’s your prerogative to make sweeping judgements based on absolutely bugger-all information, isn’t it?

VINCE: Come on, Nick, please, just leave it.

NICK: (Continues as if he hasn’t even heard him) So come on then, Holly, you’ve got me interested now, why don’t you give me your psychological assessment. Maybe you can enlighten me, maybe you can explain why it is I might still be “hurting.”

HOLLY: I don’t know Nick, I mean I’ve only just met you after all.

NICK: Oh go on, I know you’re dying to tell me what you think. What is it, am I “afraid of my true feelings?” or maybe I’m “afraid of women” full stop. No that’s not quite the right phrase is it, “threatened”, isn’t that the word you all love to use so much? Do you think I feel “threatened” by women?

HOLLY: How should I know?

NICK: Well because you’re one of the intuitive, spiritual ones, the gentler sex. So come on, why don’t you use that feminine intuition of yours?

HOLLY: Okay, Nick, what do you want me to explain?

NICK: Whatever you like.

HOLLY: Well, it doesn’t really take a psychiatrist to see you’ve still got feelings for her.

NICK: Oh I do, intense fucking hatred.

HOLLY: Fine, then.

NICK: So tell me, in your opinion, would you say that’s a rational or an irrational response, in view of the fact that I’ve just been completely fucked over? Do you think I should I continue sending out nice, happy, positive thoughts towards her, or am I right in thinking she’s a complete fucking cow, what would you say?

HOLLY: Look Nick, I really don’t know, I don’t have all the answers.

NICK: Oh come on Holly, I know you want to tell me what you really think, I can see it in your eyes. You’re just trying to be polite.

HOLLY: Look Nick, I don’t even know the reason she left you, okay.

NICK: Oh that’s right, you don’t do you? So come on, why don’t you try and have a guess?

HOLLY: I don’t know Nick, in fact I’m not even sure I really care.

NICK: Come on, take a guess.

HOLLY: I really don’t know Nick, maybe it wasn’t the right time for her.

NICK: My God, that is absolutely brilliant, you got it in one. Amazing. Not her precise words, of course, that would really be expecting too much. I think her precise words were “I’m really sorry, Nick, I just don’t think I’m ready for a relationship right now.”

HOLLY: Well maybe she wasn’t then.

NICK: Right. I mean that’s what I thought. Until about three weeks later that is, when I discovered she’d moved in with someone else. Funny that. Suddenly not so afraid of commitment. But then, of course, there was one big difference between him and me, so I really shouldn’t have been that surprised.

HOLLY: (Wearily) And that was?

NICK: Come on, see if you can figure it out? I mean it’s much more obvious than the first one and you got that straight off.

HOLLY: I don’t know.

NICK: Well I think we’ve already established it wasn’t commitment she was afraid of. So come on then, why else would a woman go off with another guy? Why else would she leave someone who was completely in love with her?

HOLLY: I don’t know Nick.

NICK: Well I think you might just be playing it dumb here, although, maybe it’s my fault, maybe I should have mentioned he happens to own his own software company. Two, in fact.

HOLLY: That’s great.

NICK: You see, it really wasn’t that difficult was it. I’m surprised you didn’t get it. She obviously just sat down and did the maths, which can’t have taken very long, in the circumstances. Figured the most a biology graduate was ever likely to make was about 30k a year, 40 tops, anyway, about a quarter of what he’s probably making right now. So an easy decision really- for a woman that is. Hence “I’m really sorry Nick, I just don’t think I’m ready for a relationship right now.”

HOLLY: I really doubt it was that cut and dried.

NICK: No? I do.

HOLLY: I mean it’s quite convenient isn’t it?

NICK: Sorry? In what way convenient?

HOLLY: Just the way you make it sound, I mean it’s nothing to do with you in any way.

NICK: Oh I’m sorry what was it that I did wrong exactly? I mean apart from being totally and madly in love with her. Apart from opening my whole heart up to her and giving her everything she asked for, in what way was it my fault? You know it’s funny the way women are always saying they just want to find someone who cares about them, someone who’s not afraid to show their feelings, but then what happens if you do? They fucking walk all over you, that’s what, I mean you say you just want nice guys, but that’s a load of shit, what you really want is a fucking bastard. I should probably have treated her like crap, she’d probably have liked that.

HOLLY: All right Nick, maybe you’re right, maybe it was that simple, maybe she was just a bitch, I don’t know, okay.

NICK: You know, I was totally faithful too, (starting to look emotional) not one fucking shag, the whole time I was with her, and I could have too, I really fucking could have. You know I turned down an out and out offer, in a bar, a hot fucking woman, too, came up and said “I don’t want to go home alone tonight” can you believe that? As straight an offer as a guy’ll ever get, and I turned her down, told her I couldn’t, I had a girlfriend. I can’t believe I did that now, I should have just fucked her, I really fucking wish I had now.

HOLLY: Look Nick, I’m really sorry, I am, but you can’t go blaming every woman that ever lived, just because one of them turns out to be a cow.

NICK: No?

HOLLY: No. I mean do you think it’s so different for us? I mean if you knew the number of complete arseholes I’ve had to deal with in the past. The number of fucking bastards. I tell you, if you knew. And the number of times I’ve been hurt, and why? Just because I had fucking sex with them, because I’d given them what it is I thought they wanted. Only to have them look at me the minute they’ve fucking come, like I’ve just turned into a total piece of shit. Hours of being chatted up and told I’m the most amazing thing in the world, and then what, in ten seconds I’ve suddenly become, this minger. Do you know what that feels like? Really, have you any idea at all? Do you know what it feels like to have to take the night bus home, or the tube the next morning, feeling like a worthless piece of crap, hating them and yourself, thinking what an idiot you’ve been, because you actually fell for all their bullshit. You know, you actually believed them when they said you were something special…Do you know what that’s like? And then thinking Jesus, is every fucking man like that, because they all seem to be, you know? But then if I really believed that, I might as well just jump in the river, mightn’t I? If I thought all of you were the same. But you’re not. I mean you’re still men at the end of the day, there’s nothing I can do about that. But at the same time you’re not all bad, you’re not all bastards, some of you do actually care a bit, you know, some of you do see us as more than just a hole to fuck, you know?

And I admit it, we do sometimes go for guys who have a bit of money, we are attracted to them, its true, I’d fucking love it if Vince was loaded and he could take me on holidays all the time and buy me clothes and stuff. But it doesn’t mean that’s all I care about or that’s what means most to me. And I know it might be the most important thing for some women, but maybe even they figure it out one day, that there are some things that are more important. It’s like that phrase of yours, what was it? “A dirty girl who’s not that pretty, is worth twice as much as a pretty girl who’s not that dirty?” That’s how we feel about guys who’ve got money. We might like the idea of someone whose rich, but at the end of the day, someone who’s genuinely a nice guy, who genuinely cares about us and who isn’t just an arrogant fuck, means so much more than someone who’s got money but who’s just a prick.

NICK: (Barely even listening.) Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s very touching, it’s just a shame it’s all bullshit, like everything that comes out of a woman’s mouth.

VINCE: Jesus Nick, what is your fucking problem? Look she dumped you, okay, Holly didn’t do it, Adam didn’t do it, I didn’t do it, can you stop fucking taking it out on everyone around you? I know it hurts, man, it just takes time that’s all.

NICK: Oh right, time, do you want to talk about time? Tell me, how much time did it take to find someone I genuinely cared about and who I fancied too? 25 years that’s how long. And so how long do you think it’ll be before I find someone else like that? Another 25 years? When I’m fifty? And then how do I know she’s not going to just turn around and prove herself to be another total fucking bitch, yeah? How do I know she’s not going to do that?

HOLLY: I don’t know.

NICK: You see, it’s all right for you, you can all fall in love like that (clicks fingers), but with us it actually means something.

HOLLY: Okay Nick, I give up. I’m sorry I can’t answer all your questions, I don’t know why she dumped you, or whether you’ll ever fall in love again, but you know sometimes these things work out for the best. One day you might even want to thank her.

NICK: Oh I’m sorry did you say, “thank her?” Is that what you said?

HOLLY: Yes I did actually. Because one day when you’ve finally finished wallowing in your little pool of self-pity, you might actually look back and realize you’ve learnt something from all of this.

NICK: Oh no, don’t tell me I’m going to come out of all this a “better person.”

HOLLY: Well there‘s seems to be some room for improvement.

NICK: Yeah right.

HOLLY: Well yeah, actually. Because from what Vince told me about you, I was under the impression you were quite a clever guy. But from what I’ve seen tonight, he was quite far off the mark, really, because for all your supposed intelligence, you don’t seem to have figured out something that most people would have said was pretty elementary.

NICK: Get lost.

HOLLY: And like I said if you do ever manage to get over this, maybe you will come out of it a “better person” and I’m sorry if that sounds corny to you, you know. Maybe I should try and put it another way. Okay, how about “you might come out of this as someone who’s not quite so much of a self-absorbed arsehole” you know what I’m saying? And who can say, maybe then it’s possible, one day you will find someone who meets up to your standards of excellence. And then instead of just running off the moment she meets someone with a little more money than you, maybe someone who owns three software companies, even, maybe she won’t find that quite so easy to do, because maybe, just maybe, she might think you’re a bit different from all the rest, like a bit special even. Instead of just some embittered little tosser. Does that make any sense to you?

NICK: Oh go and fuck yourself!

HOLLY: I don’t have to thanks. I’ve got someone who’ll do it for me.

NICK: Just fuck off!

HOLLY: Such witty repartee! What happened to that famous sense of humour I heard so much about? You should try to get some of it back, didn’t you know women like a guy who can make them laugh?

NICK: Just fuck off, fuck off! (He storms off in tears. No one says anything for a few seconds.)

VINCE: The final humiliation.

ADAM: Ah he deserved it. It was that or take his crap all night.

VINCE: God I feel awful. Maybe I should go after him, see if he’s okay?

ADAM: He’s obviously not okay.

VINCE: Yeah, I know, but…

ADAM: Come on he was being a right fucking prick. Anyway he asked for honesty. If he can’t take it, he shouldn’t give it.

VINCE: I know, but that was pretty brutal. It’s not like he hasn’t been going through any shit lately.

HOLLY: I’m sorry I just couldn’t stop myself.

VINCE: I really need a drink.

HOLLY: I’ll get them.

VINCE: You couldn’t get us a short as well, a scotch or something. I really need to relax.

HOLLY: Sure. (She leaves for the bar.)

ADAM: We did try to be nice.

VINCE: I know, I just really feel sorry for him, you know, it’s like he finally opens his heart up to someone, and then she fucks him over, it really makes you think.

ADAM: How do you mean?

VINCE: Just all that stuff we were talking about earlier, about love and that. I mean everyone’s always saying how beautiful it is and how it’s meant to be the answer and everything, but look at him, it’s hardly made him a happier person has it?

ADAM: But maybe it’s like Holly was saying, it’ll make him a better person in the long run.

VINCE: I didn’t mind the old Nick.

ADAM: I know, but you have to admit, he was a bit of a scumbag.

VINCE: Yeah, but quite an entertaining scumbag. God, I hope he’ll be okay.

ADAM: Maybe a couple of years from now.

VINCE: Shit, man.

HOLLY: (Returns with drinks.) You know what I thought was really weird, out of all the stuff he was going on about?

VINCE: What’s that?

HOLLY: That thing about the woman in the bar, the one he said came up to him wanting to take him home. I mean he made out like it was such a big deal, just because he didn’t have sex with her.

ADAM: I can see where he was coming from.

HOLLY: But it was just a shag, you can get a shag any time.

VINCE: You might be able to. Anyway, that wasn’t just any shag he was talking about, that was like the Holy Grail of shags. The straight-ahead, “will you come back and fuck me now?” filth on a plate, shag. Most guys spend their whole lives dreaming about a shag like that and they’re still lucky if they get more than one in a lifetime.

HOLLY: Oh come on!

VINCE: It’s true. How many times has that happened to you Adam? A girl you’ve never met before has walked up and asked you to fuck them?

ADAM: Apart from hookers. Once. Unfortunately, she’d passed out by the time we made it to mine.

VINCE: You see? So for someone like Nick…I’m sorry, but that was quite likely his one and only shot at the title, and he turned it down for some woman he now can’t stand.

HOLLY: Okay, but it wasn’t just that, it was the way he was making out he was so virtuous just because he didn’t sleep around. I mean he was going out with the girl, it’s not like he wasn’t getting any sex. No wonder she left him if that’s what he calls making an effort.

VINCE: No you’re right, it’s a sacrifice worth making.

HOLLY: But for me it’s not a sacrifice. I don’t want to go round sleeping with strangers the whole time. I mean really, what’s the big deal?

ADAM: So you wouldn’t care if Vince slept with someone on the side?

HOLLY: I didn’t say that. I’d probably smash a plate over his head, but at the same time…I don’t know if I’d actually end it, just for that, so long as it was only a one-night stand and it didn’t mean anything.

ADAM: That’s like what Katalina once said, she could handle me sleeping with someone else, so long as we didn’t hold hands the next day.

HOLLY: Oh yeah, that would really piss me off.

VINCE: But why? What difference does it make if you hold hands with them after?

HOLLY: Because then it shows it meant something.

VINCE: You see I wouldn’t give a damn whether you held hands or not, all I’d care about is whether you fucked the guy.

HOLLY: But what if it was completely meaningless, I mean say if I just gave some guy a blowjob in the toilets?

VINCE: Then I’d really go mad.

HOLLY: But why? It wouldn’t mean anything.

VINCE: But that’s just it, it would piss me off even more if it was meaningless.

HOLLY: So you’re saying the more meaningless it is, the more it would bother you? That’s crazy.

ADAM: Maybe the casual stuff bothers us more, because it’s what we all dream about, but hardly ever get.

HOLLY: But it’s just sex.

VINCE: It’s just holding hands.

ADAM: And you get jealous about all that romantic, lovey-dovey crap, because that’s what you want, but hardly ever get. I mean when did you last get asked out for a country walk or a romantic picnic?

HOLLY: You mean a proper “date” date? I can’t even remember. Usually it’s (in “bloke” voice) “wanna come back to mine later? We can get pissed.”

ADAM: There you go, so we never get enough of what we want and neither do you. We’re equally as frustrated as each other.

VINCE: Life’s fair after all.

HOLLY: God, that’s really depressing. So do you think that’s how it’ll always be, an endless battle of the sexes, you all searching for one thing, us searching for the other, and ne’er the twain shall meet?

ADAM: Well if you ask me, we’d all be a lot happier if you weren’t so uptight about having sex the whole time.

HOLLY: My God, there you go again, it always comes back to the same thing doesn’t it? Don’t you ever get sick of it, at all? There are other things in life you know.

ADAM: Like what?

HOLLY: Jesus.

VINCE: But you say it like we’re the only ones who are into it, I mean you like it too, in fact you love it, all of you. You make out it’s just us, but you all love it, too.

HOLLY: Okay yeah, it’s true, I do love sex, almost every girl I know does, but there’s a difference you know.

VINCE: Like what?

HOLLY: I don’t know. I suppose it’s just that we’re not…obsessed by it, in the same way you all seem to be. I mean we might all love it, but at the same time it doesn’t rule us like it does you. If we’re not getting it we can still function, you know? We can still go on and do other things, it doesn’t stop our brains from working. Maybe that’s the difference between us, men and women I mean, we love sex, but it doesn’t rule us. (Adam and Vince are silent.) I mean it’s just ridiculous, it really is, you just can’t seem to keep a lid on it, at all, you’re just obsessed, it’s all you think about, it’s all you talk about, sex, sex, sex the whole time.

VINCE: (Almost desperately trying to make a joke.) But it’s a serious matter.

HOLLY: It is for you isn’t it? You all take it so seriously. All a girl has to do is mention sex and you suddenly look all serious, even your faces change. All we have to do is say something like “you know I really want to suck your cock right now” and that’s it, finally the joking stops. And it’s so easy, it’s like how you can hypnotize a chicken just by dragging its beak along the ground, it makes you so easy to control, in fact it’s so easy it’s depressing. It doesn’t matter who you are, businessmen, politicians, presidents, Stephen Hawking, it doesn’t matter how powerful or clever you’re supposed to be. All it takes is one brainless bimbo waving her tits at you and that’s it, you all suddenly turn into (pulls expression of mesmerized idiot.) And then you’ll do absolutely anything, throw away your marriage, “who cares if my kids end up in therapy for the next fifteen years, I’ve got the chance of a little pussy here.” You’ll even chuck your entire careers down the drain, I mean what happens? Does all the blood drain from your head every time you get a hard-on? You spend your whole lives trying to build up your little empires, trying to take over the world, and what does it take to bring the whole thing crashing down? One fucking lap dancer in an Italian nightclub, one dopey secretary, that’s all it takes, or one mildly astute, fat manipulative intern, goddamn…I mean Monica Lewinsky for Christ’s sake, you know, that’s what’s so fucking annoying, they don’t even have to be that nice, I mean Monica fucking Lewinsky, it’s just so fucking… depressing…. And you say we’re dumb, you say we’re the idiots, that’s the real joke, that’s the real fucking joke. (Adam and Vince are both left speechless for several seconds as they try to absorb all of this.) I’m sorry, (she looks genuinely sad and uncomprehending) it’s just sometimes it feels like there’s no point in trying to be nice or making an effort or anything, I mean Monica fucking Lewinsky? Really, it’s not like any of you even care. (There is another silence.)

VINCE: But we do care.

HOLLY: But you don’t, you fucking don’t!

VINCE: Look, okay, when it comes to a straight shag, I admit it, we’re not always that choosy.

HOLLY: You don’t say?

VINCE: But what you’re talking about is just the meaningless stuff, you said so yourself.

HOLLY: It means a lot to all of you though, doesn’t it?

VINCE: Yeah, all right but still, I’m just saying that that’s what that is, but when it comes to something more serious, something more meaningful, then we are choosy, in fact we’re fucking choosy.

HOLLY: But that’s rubbish. Every guy, given the choice goes for the most beautiful woman they can find.

VINCE: I’m not saying we don’t appreciate beauty.

HOLLY: But you don’t even care what kind of person they are so long as they look good. It’s all any of you care about.

VINCE: Now you’re starting to sound like Nick.

HOLLY: Come on, the evidence is everywhere, look at all those footballers’ wives, blonde, beautiful and brainless, every last one of them.

VINCE: Yeah, but that’s just footballers.

HOLLY: So?

VINCE: Well they’re just going for a fellow airhead aren’t they? Imagine if they went out with someone like Joan Bakewell. Then they’d start to realize how dumb they really were.

HOLLY: (Smiles.) Okay, but all the other rich and famous people you see with top models or whatever.

VINCE: You can still be rich and famous and an idiot.

HOLLY: Yeah, but so what?

VINCE: So not every guy is like that.

HOLLY: Like who? Who hasn’t gone out with the most beautiful woman they could get?

VINCE: The cool ones. The ones who don’t just care about whether they’ve got some trophy on their arm or what other people think about them.

HOLLY: Come on, like who? Give me one example.

VINCE: All right, John and Yoko.

HOLLY: But she was horrible.

VINCE: I totally agree, but it doesn’t fit with your theory, does it?

HOLLY: So why did he marry her then?

VINCE: No idea, but it can’t have been just for her looks.

HOLLY: Well he was obviously mad, who else?

VINCE: All right, Paul and Linda.

HOLLY: Yeah, why did he go for her?

VINCE: She was a very nice woman.

ADAM: And she made very nice lasagnes.

HOLLY: He could have done so much better.

VINCE: Isn’t that great? You all complain about how men only care about looks and the moment one of us goes for someone who’s not 100% perfect, you start bitching about how they could have done so much better.

ADAM: Or saying they’ve got fat ankles.

HOLLY: (Starting to smile) Well anyway…who else? That’s just the Beatles, they were obviously strange.

VINCE: Okay then, the Stones.

HOLLY: You mean, like Mick and Jerry? She was one of the top models in the world.

VINCE: About thirty years ago.

HOLLY: Still, she’s hardly Miss Average, even now.

VINCE: Maybe, but he’s still been with her all this time.

HOLLY: Her and about ten thousand other girls.

VINCE: Yeah, but why does he keep going back to her? And not to all the other ones. The younger, prettier ones?

HOLLY: I don’t know.

VINCE: Well, nor do I, but my guess is he might actually like her a bit, you know, “as a person.”

HOLLY: Okay, maybe. He might.

VINCE: And what about Anita?

HOLLY: Anita Pallenberg? She was stunning.

VINCE: Yeah, and also extremely clever, she could run rings around all of them.

HOLLY: All right, but what does that prove?

VINCE: Well, it might explain why she had the three main Stones, all fighting over her.

HOLLY: (Suddenly interested.) They fought over her? Like a duel?

VINCE: Well not exactly, but…Brian punched Keith out after he stole her off him. And then Keith nearly punched Mick, when they were filming the sex scenes for Performance.

HOLLY: Okay, so?

VINCE: Well why do you think the three main Stones fought over the same woman? Why do you think Keith was with her for all those years, instead of just moving onto the next brainless bimbo as soon as he’d shagged the pants off her?

HOLLY: Because he liked her? He found her interesting?

VINCE: Yes for fuck’s sake. (Sighs, finally seeing he’s started to get through.) I mean why do you think I go out with you? I may not be Mick or Keith, but it wouldn’t be impossible for me to find another girlfriend, you know. If I wanted to.

HOLLY: Because you like me as a person?

VINCE: Yes. Because there’s a bit more to you than just (in dopey voice) “chocolate, Friends, ‘does my arse look fat?’ make-up, chocolate, Friends, make-up” you know? I find you interesting, you can make me laugh, I can talk to you, when you’re not being a stupid bitch that is. And obviously you give me a raging hard-on as well.

HOLLY: (Smiling.) Look I’m really sorry. I know I can be silly sometimes, it’s just not always easy to know, you know?

VINCE: It’s all right. You can be quite cute when you’re being a stupid bitch.

HOLLY: (Cheering up.) Arhh thanks. Can you give me a kiss? (They kiss.) You can be a bitch too though, sometimes, like when you go on about Damien Rice.

ADAM: Please Holly, it’s best not to get him started.

HOLLY: Can I have another kiss?

ADAM: Now this is precisely why I hate going out with couples.

HOLLY: What? Oh I’m sorry

ADAM: No don’t worry about me, just imagine it’s a huge gooseberry sitting here.

HOLLY: I’m really sorry. (She composes herself and has now visibly cheered up.) So anyway, you never really told me about Lara, wasn’t she the one you went out with for a while? What was she like? Was she pretty?

ADAM: Oh yeah, but it was more than that, like Vince was saying, we could talk about stuff, she could make me laugh.

HOLLY: So why did you split up then?

ADAM: Ah, the usual story, we wanted different things.

HOLLY: So what did she want?

ADAM: The same as all girls. More.

HOLLY: Ahh, she probably just loved you.

ADAM: Yeah, I loved her too. But it never seemed quite enough for her.

HOLLY: How do you mean?

ADAM: I don’t know, it’s just that she always seemed to want to take things that bit further, you know, to the “next stage.” Whatever I did, it was never quite enough. First she’d want to spend the next day together. Then it was “let’s spend the weekend together,” then it was “let’s move in together.” In the end I decided to bail out before mortgages got mentioned or the other M word, the really bad one. I just don’t know why girls always seem to want to do that. Always wanting to take it to the next level.

HOLLY: Because our feelings grow. Didn’t yours?

ADAM: Well yeah they did, just not as fast I suppose. By the time I’d got onto one level, she was onto the next, before I’d even had a chance to get used to the idea. (Holly raises an eyebrow.) It was like it was a career for her or something, she even said something once about “investing” in the relationship. I just don’t understand that, why not just enjoy what you have now, instead of always trying to push for more the whole time?

HOLLY: Well you’re always pushing us for more. “Why don’t we watch a porno?” “Let’s get another girl in,” trying to take that to the next level.

ADAM: I suppose, she wasn’t really into that either.

HOLLY: Maybe you could have made it work, if you’d given a bit, if you both had.

ADAM: Well you’re probably right, if you call staying together making it work.

HOLLY: Well it’s not always a bad thing, a bit of compromise.

ADAM: I suppose, I mean that’s probably how half the couples in the world manage to survive. She’s tired and wants to leave the party, he wants to stay for a couple more hours, so it’s “why don’t we stay for one more hour and then leave?” you know, split the difference. “Oh all right then.” The trouble is where does it all end? If you’re not careful, your whole life becomes a compromise, everything, every decision, where you put the picture on the wall, where you go on holiday, what CD you put on, before you know it you’re watching Brigitte Jones Diary and listening to Dido.

HOLLY: Or watching Sky Sports all night.

ADAM: Well yeah and then neither of you is truly happy or gets what you really want. I’d rather be on my own than end up like that.

HOLLY: So what, you spend the rest of your life hanging around places like this, just looking for casual sex?

ADAM: At least I’m not compromising.

VINCE: But surely being single’s a compromise too? I mean every time you go out it’s a compromise isn’t it? You fancy the girl in the corner, but she’s a bit full of herself, so you try it on with her friend, who’s maybe not quite as hot, but looks a bit more likely, but then she’s still hung up on her ex, so you end up with some ten to two-er. Or if you do manage to pull the one you liked, she only likes sleeping with guys if they’ve taken her out six times first.

HOLLY: So you split the difference, and do it on the third.

VINCE: Isn’t that how the whole thing goes? Isn’t the whole of life a compromise, one way or another?

HOLLY: Having said that I don’t particularly feel like I’m compromising when I’m with you.

VINCE: No I suppose I don’t either, now you mention it. Usually when you want to leave I was thinking about going too, or if you want to stay, that’s what I wanted to do. Even not sleeping around doesn’t feel like a compromise really. I’m sure I could do it if I really wanted to, but I don’t want to, because it wouldn’t feel right, so I wouldn’t enjoy it. But that’s my choice, it’s not because you’re making me.

ADAM: Ah well, there you go then, maybe that’s the definition.

VINCE: The definition of what?

ADAM: Er…you know, that thing we were talking about earlier? About seagulls and all that, remember? (He looks at him as if to say, “I’m trying not to drop you in the shit here.”)

VINCE: Oh right, that, yeah.

HOLLY: What on earth are you talking about?

ADAM: Oh just this thing about how a seagull, sometimes feel this special connection with one other particular seagull.

HOLLY: Are you talking about being in love?

ADAM: Erm, yeah.

HOLLY: Well why don’t you just say so? Are you that scared of it that you can’t even bring yourself to utter the word? (Breathes deeply) So go on then!

ADAM: Yuh, well, so I was just thinking that maybe that’s how you can tell if you’re “in” love as opposed to just loving someone, like I probably felt with Lara. You no longer feel like you’re compromising. And that’s when the whole thing finally comes together.

HOLLY: “Comes together?”

ADAM: Well yeah, because then you’re no longer coming from opposite ends the whole time, at last it all comes together, you both start getting what you really want, and you no longer have to compromise the whole time. She doesn’t have to get annoyed because he never seems to listen to her or notice when she’s changed her shade of nail varnish, because he’s absolutely obsessed with her and finds everything about her fascinating. Even the prospect of a romantic dinner, no longer sends him into a catatonic state, and she’s so into him, she suddenly starts turning into his own private nympho, happy to try out every little fantasy he’s ever had and then some. Even from the start, he probably didn’t have to wait half as long to get her between the sheets, because she was so much hotter for him than normal. So everything comes together.

VINCE: Literally sometimes.

HOLLY: (Deadpan) So am I the gull of your dreams then Vince?

ADAM: My God.

VINCE: It’s no worse than “Flock Of Seagulls”.

HOLLY: It almost makes me feel sad for people who don’t ever find it.

ADAM: I’m glad I haven’t.

HOLLY: You’re glad? Why? Don’t you want to experience it?

ADAM: Not particularly. I mean from what I’ve seen it do to people.

HOLLY: But if it’s so good?

ADAM: Well that’s just the problem, it’s too good. It’s like heroin, and once you’ve tasted that, everything else is like cooking sherry in comparison. And so then you can no longer go back to cheap one-nighters without them feeling, well cheap.

HOLLY: But if you’re lucky you never have to.

ADAM: But it’s not only that, it really is like smack. I mean it might feel fantastic whacked off your head, just staring at the ceiling night and day, but to everyone else it’s fucking boring, and I was hoping to avoid going that way, at least for a few years yet.

VINCE: You’re saying love is boring?

ADAM: Not to the person who’s feeling it, then I’m sure it’s amazing, like I said, I just mean for everyone else. I mean it doesn’t always happen right away, it can take a couple of years or more to fully establish itself, like any addiction, but sooner or later the pattern usually starts to emerge. First you start going out less and less, you might keep going to clubs now and again, but usually more out of guilt than anything, because you don’t want to feel like you don’t do that sort of thing anymore. But then what‘s the point of going to clubs when you’re not on the pull, don’t tell me it’s for the music. Plus you usually end up getting into some kind of argument afterwards, because one of you has been talking to someone of the opposite sex for that bit too long. In fact, normally the problem’s not even that you haven’t been talking to each other all night, but that that’s all you’ve done, so why try to do it with a whole racket in the background. So you go to pubs, but again all you usually do is talk to each other all evening, or maybe to some other couple who you know, but who you probably don’t like all that much, because you’re starting to find them a bit boring too. So then you start just getting take-aways from the off-license, save a bit of money, you tell yourself. And before you know it, you’re spending most of your free nights in, watching DVDs and occasionally popping out to pick up some Ben and Jerry’s. So then when you’ve done that for a couple of years, even you’re starting to get a bit fed up, and you can no longer avoid the fact that you’ve become everything you swore you’d never be. Even your friends have given up calling to see if you want to come out, because they know you’ll just make up some excuse. (Vince and Holly’s expressions are becoming increasingly mortified as he speaks.) And so then every once in a while one of you decides it’s time to really make an effort, kick the habit as it were. “Hey, it’s Friday, come on let’s do something, let’s go out, we never go out these days.” “All right” says the other, “what do you feel like doing?” “I don’t know, shall we have a look through Time Out, see what’s on?” “Sure.” So you look through Time Out. “How about a play?” one of you says. “I don’t know, I don’t think I really fancy a play.” “All right then, how about some comedy?” “Comedy? Hmm, not sure, what about a film?” “Ooh a film, yeah all right, shall we see what’s on?” So then you start flicking through the cinema section, but deep down you both know it’s a waste of time, and that one way or another there’s no way you’re going to find anything you both want to see that night, and then it’s usually just a matter of time, before one of you will finally turn to the other and go “you know what? I don’t mind if we just stay in tonight” ”Oh really?” says the other, breathing a massive sigh of relief, “okay then, maybe we could get a DVD.” (Cheering up) ”Yeah,” says the other, “and we can get some Ben and Jerry’s.”

VINCE: (Stunned into silence for a few seconds.) So that’s it, is it? Falling in love is a completely pointless exercise.

ADAM: Oh no, I didn’t say that, there’s a very good point to it all.

HOLLY: There is? What is it? Please tell us what the point is.

ADAM: Well, having babies of course.

VINCE: Don’t tell me the only reason we’re here is to perpetuate the species. Please say there’s more to it all than that.

ADAM: Hey, it’s Nature’s conspiracy not mine.

VINCE: What do you mean?

ADAM: Well you need a pretty good incentive to want to put yourself through all of that, haven’t you, I mean nappies, terrible twos, obnoxious teenagers, hip hop blasting out of bedrooms, mortgage loans they’ll never pay back, all that awful stuff, I mean think about it.

VINCE: So what, you do it not to feel boring?

ADAM: Well, yeah because by then your lives have usually become so dull and predictable, that by the time one of you suggests bringing another little life into the world, or she happens to get up the duff by accident, you’re no longer quite so horrified by the idea, in fact you might even be grateful at the thought of something to help break up the monotony.

VINCE: Oh God.

ADAM: And of course then you’ve got the perfect excuse for staying in every night. I mean you’re pretty much obliged to anyway, except instead of having to feel guilty about never going out unless it’s to pick up a DVD or some ice cream, now you can feel good about the fact, because now you’ve got a reason, a noble reason. You’re no longer just a lazy sell-out, suddenly you’ve become a hero, a martyr figure, because now you’re doing it “for the sake of the children.” “Sorry I can’t come out and play footie in the park. Sorry I’m not going to come along on that motorcycling holiday you had planned. I’d really like to mate…got to look after the kids though, you know how it is?”

HOLLY: And that’s how nature persuades us to have children is it?

ADAM: Well yeah, that plus shagging in general. Talking of which, I think it’s time I hit the main room, I can feel the lure of a certain Playboy shirt. What do you say Holly, twenty quid I’ll get her back to mine?

HOLLY: (Almost dazed) Erm yeah okay.

ADAM: Allright, I’ll see you later. (Adam cheerily gets up to go into the main room, completely oblivious to the effect his words have had. There is at least a ten second silence as what he has just said filters in. They both remain looking semi-dumbstruck.)

VINCE: For a moment there, it all seemed to make perfect sense.

HOLLY: It’s like he’s somehow managed to make everything sound completely natural and completely futile, all at the same time.

VINCE: Do you want a drink?

HOLLY: Mm, quite badly as it happens. Could you get us a scotch as well?

VINCE: What a scotch and a rum and coke?

HOLLY: If you don’t mind.

VINCE: No, No, I don’t mind. (He walks to the bar still looking faintly dazed.)

(LIGHTS DIM)

ACT 5.

SCENE 2:

Vince’s room, following morning. The room is noticeably tidier than in the past. There is the sound of a mobile phone message coming through, Holly and Vince wake up, Vince checks his phone.

VINCE: My God, text from Nick. (He presses a couple of buttons then reads) “Sorry for being a cunt. Fancy a drink this week? Bring Adam, if he’ll speak to me. Gaylord.” (He smiles to himself) Cool.

HOLLY: Ah, he signed it “Gaylord”, that’s sweet.

VINCE: Thank God he hasn’t killed himself.

HOLLY: I knew he’d be okay.

VINCE: Hang on, missed call, answerphone. (Listens) Adam. (Listens) He says he owes you twenty quid. Hah!

HOLLY: I knew it.

VINCE: (Still listening.) Who’s the girl with the red top and kohl eyes?

HOLLY: She was the one who…

VINCE: Hang on…he says he got it wrong about her too, total fucking filthbucket, apparently, he says he just got the nosh of his life. Go Adam.

HOLLY: My God, even I didn’t see that coming. How are you anyway? (She kisses him.)

VINCE: Me? Yeah, I’m all right, I think I drank quite a bit in the end.

HOLLY: Tell me about it, I virtually had to carry you through the door. You even told me you loved me at one point.

VINCE: (Looking genuinely taken aback) I didn’t, did I?

HOLLY: Well not exactly, I think what you actually said was “I think, I might love you,” but you know, that’s not bad for you, a relatively spontaneous show of emotion. So then I told you I sort of wanted to suck you off.

VINCE: Oh yeah, its starting to come back to me now. (Cringing slightly.)

HOLLY: Don’t worry, I won’t hold it against you, I know what alcohol does to your brain.

VINCE: So how are you anyway?

HOLLY: Yeah, pretty good, considering all that stuff Adam was going on about.

VINCE: Oh yeah, that.

HOLLY: He just made it sound so depressing and inevitable. Do you really think that’s all there is to it? Birth, school, rent DVDs, have kids, die. A long, slow descent into general mediocrity?

VINCE: I don’t now. Maybe you just have to make an effort not to become like that. Anyway as long, slow descents into mediocrity go, it’s not such a bad one.

HOLLY: That’s true, it’s probably how I’d like to go.

VINCE: So do you feel like doing anything today?

HOLLY: I don’t know, it looks a bit shit out, to be honest, we could just stay in and get a DVD. Oh No, I can’t believe I just said that, oh my God, maybe he’s right, do you think we’re becoming boring, Vince?

VINCE: I don’t know. I suppose it’s a question of what is boring? I mean hanging round clubs can get pretty boring after a while. I mean it’s all right if you’re into it, but if you’re not then it’s boring to keep going, it’s just whatever you’re into, I suppose. It’s when you’re stuck in a rut, and you just stay stuck, that you’ve got a problem…I mean there’s a whole world out there, it’s just a matter of getting up off your arse to take a look at it. Right now, some golden-tipped hummingbird has probably just alighted on the head of an emerging crocodile, in a dazzling display of light, beauty and danger and no one even saw it happen.

HOLLY: Because everyone was sitting in watching DVDs?

VINCE: Exactly.

HOLLY: We can still get one out later though, yeah?

VINCE: Yeah. We can quit tomorrow. Anyway, fuck it, I’m going to put on a record. (Suddenly cheering up) Anything you want to hear?

HOLLY: Yeah, hey I got lent the latest Dido CD from a girl at work, she says it’s really good.

VINCE: (Has a look of total dismay on his face.) What?

HOLLY: Hey, I’m kidding, for fuck’s sake, God you are so easy to wind up sometimes.

VINCE: (Look of relief) Please, don’t ever do that to me again.

HOLLY: Idiot. Hey, put on some Otis, put on Otis Blue.

VINCE: Yeah, good call. (He searches for the album and pulls it out of its sleeve.) You know he recorded the whole album in one day? The whole thing.

HOLLY: No I didn’t know that.

VINCE: They even had to break off in the middle to play a gig, then came back and finished the rest of the album. Don’t you think that’s incredible?

HOLLY: Productive day. (She looks at the sleeve.)

VINCE: You’re telling me.

HOLLY: Side two, track two, for me, please.

VINCE: Oh yeah. I fucking love this.

HOLLY: I much prefer it to the original version.

VINCE: Oh yeah, I agree. Totally. (He puts down the needle, there is a bit of vinyl crackle before Otis Redding’s version of “My Girl” starts up. Holly lies back in Vince’s arms with her eyes shut, while Vince gently plays with her hair. Vince looks completely happy.)

(A few seconds after the vocals start, the curtain falls and the volume of the music rises slightly until the song’s end.)